Rape: A Love Story
Joyce Carol Oates
Published by Da Capo Press
Teena Maguire should not have tried to shortcut her way home that Fourth of July. Not after midnight, not through Rocky Point Park. Not the way she was dressed: tank top, denim cut-offs, high-heeled sandals. Not with her twelve-year-old daughter, Bethie. Not with packs of local guys running loose on hormones, rage, and alcohol. A victim of gang rape, left for dead in the park boathouse, the once vital and sexy Teena Maguire can now only regret that she has survived. And Bethie can barely remember a childhood uncoloured by fear. For they're not even a neighbourhood away, the men that she identified for the Niagara Falls Police Department: the wide-browed, sandy-haired Pick brothers; the sneering Jimmy DeLucca; Fritz Haaber with his moustache and stubbled jaw. They've killed her grandmother's longhaired orange cat. At a relentless, compelling pace punctuated by lonely cries in the night and the whisper of terror in the afternoon, National Book Award-winner Joyce Carol Oates unfolds the story of Teena and Bethie, their assailants, and their unexpected, silent champion, a man who knows the meaning of justice. And love.
What did you think of the style of RAPE - A LOVE STORY, and what did you think of the police officer (I forget his name) in the book?
Rape - A Love Story was not what I expected. It was such a short book that I was surprised at the huge story that it told. All along I expected the love story aspect to be about the mother and a man, but upon reflection, I realized it was about a daughters love for her mother. The police officer (I believe his name was Dromoor?) was a surprisingly emotional addition to the book. At first glance he would appear to be a guardian angel looking for justice, but then I began to see him as a man looking to redeem himself in his own eyes.
Andi from Tripping Toward Lucidity asked...
Have you read other Oates books besides Rape? Which others have you read and how did Rape stack up? I haven't read it, so is it as horrifying as the title suggests? Oates is one of those authors that makes me supremely uncomfortable (and I admire her for that). My favourite of her works is novella, Beasts.
Other than Rape I have read 2 novels by Oates. Tattooed Girl, which I did not enjoy and can barely recall except it having to do with a (dying?)Jewish writer hiring a housekeeper who dates a racist. And Zombie, which sounds really bizarre but ended up being good. It is written from the perspective of Quentin, a convicted sexual predator, who decides to kidnap someone and perform DIY brain surgery, making them into a zombie for him to play with. Sounds strange huh? but the really strange part is that Oates makes it confusing as to whether you hate Quentin or feel sorry for him. This one is pretty graphic, so proceed with caution.
Rape is not all that bad, the most uncomfortable parts were the actual descriptions of the mothers rape, as they are coming from the 12 year old daughter. I think the strength of Rape was in the relationship between mother and daughter and also their struggle to survive the small towns opinion in the aftermath of the rape.
How did you feel after reading Rape: A Love Story? And how did you feel about this book? I remember finding it extremely disturbing and avoiding any other work by Oates for a long time.
I found myself both sad and hopeful at the same time. Rape was very disheartening to me because I could so fully imagine the same thing happening in any small town in North America - the way in which the mother is looked down upon and doubted, the way in which a community bands together to protect "one of their own" rather than the obvious victims. However the relationship between the mother and daughter made me realize that the love they had for each other was an amazing thing that should not be taken for granted.
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