Carthage: A Novel
Joyce Carol Oates
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A mesmerizing novel that examines grief, faith, justice, and the atrocities of war through the story of a young girl's disappearance in a small adirondack town
Zeno mayfield's daughter has disappeared into the night, gone missing in the wilds of the Adirondacks. But when the community of Carthage joins a father's frantic search for the girl, they discover the unlikeliest of suspects—a decorated Iraq War veteran with close ties to the Mayfield family. As grisly evidence mounts against the troubled war hero, the family must wrestle with the possibility of having lost a daughter forever.
Carthage plunges us deep into the psyche of a wounded young corporal, haunted by unspeakable acts of wartime aggression, while unraveling the story of a disaffected young girl whose exile from her family may have come long before her disappearance.
Dark and riveting, Carthage is a powerful addition to the Joyce Carol Oates canon, one that explores the human capacity for violence, love, and forgiveness, and asks if it's ever truly possible to come home again.
chair is in storage. Lethal injection, there’s nothing much to see.” Yet the Lieutenant continued in a zestful manner to describe botched lethal injections he had witnessed over the years: “Like, your veins are all wizened from shooting heroin, they’ve got to stick you all over—arms, legs, inside-thighs—feet, haunches—underneath the jaw—foot. Poor bastids like a pincushion some of ’em, squeaking No no no more! God help me I am sorry.” The Lieutenant paused, for effect. “And sometimes the
intestine. And Cressida had practically shut her bedroom door in Juliet’s frightened face, when Juliet had wanted to talk about Mommy, and Cressida had not wanted to talk about Mommy. Go away leave me alone! I don’t want to talk about it OK!) So Juliet was married! And had a child, or two children. The pretty one had prevailed. She, too, had left Carthage—the debris-littered landscape. Had some sort of breakdown. Her fiancé—killed her sister. Drowned in the Nautauga River but the body never
had come to note how the very word negative seemed often to be a concern of Arlette’s. How any suggestion that Cressida might have reacted to the maelstrom of attention focused upon her, since July 2005, scarcely abating since the confession of Corporal Kincaid in October of that year, with anything like Cressida’s usual skepticism, drew a sharp, unflattering crease between Arlette’s eyebrows. As if the mother Arlette, not the father Zeno, had become the missing daughter’s interpreter: the
provided information against certain of his fellow platoon-comrades, in Iraq; that he’d participated in an army investigation into atrocities committed by U.S. soldiers against Iraqi citizens; that some or all of his injuries might have been the result of his providing testimony, and that he’d had to be hurriedly dispatched out of his platoon, out of Iraq, to prevent his being killed. None of these rumors was ever substantiated and when Zeno Mayfield tried to discover what had happened, both
and we are together. The doctor—neurologist—says it is a matter of neuron-recircuiting. It is a matter of new brain cells learning to take over from the damaged brain cells. It is neurogenesis. Like not-sleeping. The brain “forgets” how to sleep. Like—sometimes—the brain forgets how to control “elimination.” It is no one’s fault. These reflexes will come back in time, the doctor said. WHEN THE GRENADE exploded, and the wall collapsed. It was combat. It was in action. Which is why you have