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3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  1,254 ratings  ·  245 reviews
A young girl's disappearance rocks a community and a family, in this stirring examination of grief, faith, justice, and the atrocities of war, the latest from literary legend Joyce Carol Oates

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,...more
Hardcover, 482 pages
Published January 21st 2014 by Ecco (first published January 1st 2014)
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Diane S.
3.5 Had a hard time with this one, there were many parts I liked but at the same time I felt this was to wordy. Using stream of consciousness in some places, and a narrative voice in others, this novel is told in many different voices. The father, both daughters, the mother and the war veteran suffering from PTSD. When their 19 yr. old daughter goes missing, the last person seen with her is the vet. Her older sister's ex- fiance, he has come back terrifically wounded from the war, both mentally...more
This is the truth as I imagine it: Joyce Carol Oates, so full of words that they tumble out of her and so she has to just put them places. Into novels, that’s the obvious answer. When they’re coming too quickly to sort, poems. Tweets, that’s healthy, too. Then there are the looped letters in the foggy mirror and etchings with her thumb nail into the soft wood of park benches.

She’s a different kind of person’s Stephen King. Or maybe she’s the same person’s kind of Stephen King, but in a differen...more
At one point, I feared I might end up disliking this book as much as I disliked "The Accursed." The point came mid-story via a switch from upstate New York to Florida, a displacement so jarring I suffered mental whiplash.

Once I understood the reason, I overcame my emotional emergency and settled back into the novel— as much as one settles into a JCO novel. She is not a settling-in writer, not by a long shot. Oates is about as settling as sitting on a porcupine while scorpions dance around your...more
What an odd novel.
For one thing, the characters sounded like educated cavemen. I know that sounds oxymoronic, but I don't know how else to capture the stilted, self conscious, unnatural yet often high falutin prose. For another, the most interesting part of the story was not at all handled, and the rest of it was an incredible boring build up to it.
Carthage is about a rather unlikable and strange young woman who goes missing and how the family falls apart. This one had a bit of a twist but the e...more
Jo Dervan
This book, reminiscent of We Were the Mulvaneys, is about how a single incident wrecks the lives of a whole family. This book is set in upstate NY, the scene o other books by this author. The affluent Mayfield family has two daughters, Juliet and Cressida. Juliet, older and the prettier of the two, is engaged to her boyfriend, Brett, who is serving the army in Iraq. However he returns home severely wounded in both body and mind.
Juliet accepts his condition and is willing to help him through his...more
Eric Anderson
Reading a long epic novel by Oates is a wholly immersive experience. I became fully lost in this book, grew to love the uniquely individual characters and spent a lot of time contemplating the intellectual and emotional conundrums that the author presents. It’s a dramatic, extraordinary story that explores large subjects like the Iraq war, the American penitentiary system, alcoholism and spousal abuse. Yet, the main thrust of the tale is a deeply personal story of a family that’s been splintered...more
There are plenty of plot synopses available at this point, so I'm going to focus my review on just my thoughts about the book.

I really wanted to find another way to describe my feelings about Carthage other than "I hated it", but that is truly the most honest. I struggled to pick it up, read it, and get through it. The only reason I kept plugging away is that I was hoping to get a satisfying resolution to the story, but I felt like it just petered out and I didn't even get that.

The reasons for m...more
This will teach me to pick up a Joyce Carol Oates book, expecting to like it. I don't actually like her style - too cloying by half. She writes about victims (in their minds they are, at least), and she writes it in stream of conscience style. This lack of plot and half-hearted prose probably explains her high output. But, it resembles nothing so much as verbal diarrhea.

I really HATED the main characters - all of them seem to have one personality trait (or flaw), and they never deviate despite t...more
Peter Fortune
Joyce Carol Oates is the Cormack McCarthy of the psyche. McCarthy uses his inside voice to explore the existential bleakness of the human condition; Oates uses her outside voice to explore the mind filled with angst, anger, and pain.

It is 2005 and nineteen-year old Cressida Mayfield is missing in a state park near Carthage, NY. In the very beginning, Cressida speaks to us from her lostness. Her older sister’s fiancé is somehow implicated, but his body and mind have been so scarred in Iraq that...more
In her 40th novel, Oates once again depicts the tragic sundering of families. The damage is not gradual, but the result of misbegotten choices/perceptions.

The focus of "Carthage" is Cressida Mayfield, the 'smart' younger sister - who feels unloved, unwanted, in spite of the obvious care bestowed upon her - of the 'pretty' Juliet. Juliet is betrothed to Brett Kincaid, who returns from the Iraq war scarred in body and mind. The setting of Carthage, New York is real, but I found it interesting to l...more
In many ways, Oates' latest isn't vastly different to many of her other novels (a seemingly ideal upstate New York family torn apart by a terrible event involving a daughter - 'We Were the Mulvaneys' and 'My Sister, My Love' have both trodden the same path) but then it is her fascination with certain themes that keeps me reading her and finding something new even when there is this sense of déja vu. So, here, in addition to Oates's usual themes about identity, about violence, about family, she a...more
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This is one of those books that I feel bad giving 3 stars to because it's well written and well thought out and relatively well characterized. It doesn't really seem right to rate it the same as many of the silly cozy mysteries that I read.

But, I can't really go higher.

It's the story of a family torn apart by the disappearance of the younger daughter, allegedly at the hands of the older daughter's fiancé, a wounded Iraq war veteran. I really can't go into much more about the storyline without sp...more
Debra Mccall
I really wanted to like this book and usually really like Oates...Loved the first 200 pages (thru the confession) and then found the rest so hard to believe. This book was also WAY too long. Disappointing.
I don't really know where to start describing this book, but here goes. CARTHAGE is an ambitious novel, in terms of subject matter and even language. For me, I am sad to say, it is not successful on either account.
What really disappointed me was the cool distance from emotional connection ever present in the book. The subjects presented - PTSD, trauma, loss, grief, etc. - are ones that should evoke deep feeling and involvement, yet the style of writing, the blandness of the characters (speaking...more
The difference between a writer and a great writer is that the latter will produce a piece of work which is at once engaging, it may provoke you as well as endeavour to make you consider viewpoints which you may not agree with. Throughout her long and varied career, Joyce Carol Oates has produced fiction and non-fiction which are frequently not ‘easy’ reads, they will challenge you, making you question your moral codes and often offer alternatives which you may struggle with. She never shies awa...more
Uwe Hook
Joyce Carol Oates is an amazingly prolific author, yet she manages to produce excellent novels such as this one, which explores issues relating simultaneously to the inner psychology of flawed characters, and also to current events such as distant wars. As is almost expected in her novels, the protagonist is a young woman struggling to cope with a difficult world, set in small town north-eastern USA. But there are many other elements, such as the dynamics of dysfunctional families and the diffic...more
The action of a waif- like young girl with the odd name of Cressida, spirals outward to engulf other lives in a chaotic maelstrom. I almost lost patience with this book several times. It seemed to be overloaded with eccentric characters, becoming almost ludicrous. But I persisted and was rewarded. Many of the characters slowly assumed three dimensions on the page. This is a gripping story about the evils of war, mental illness, the joy and agony of intimate relationships. It is clearly a fable o...more
I haven't any idea why this book and I stalled out. The story seemed to drag and despite the conflicts faced by the characters and the tragedy unfolding, I just didn't care much.
I was going to file this and go back to it, but I don't think it's worth it. I'm racing back to the 19th century where I belong.
A fascinating read from one of my favorite writers. It involves the death of a girl who is still missing. This novel takes a lot of right turns. and will hold your interest to the end.
Strange and then too, too weird. Characters do weird things without any explanation and this reader kept shaking her head saying huh.....
Virginia Towe-terry
I love Oates' use of language, and how intricate her characters are. However, as someone who grew up and has spent a great deal of time in northern NY, I was very distracted by her mixture of real and imaginary place names, as well as changing some places needlessly. The county she mentions does not exist-Carthage is in Jefferson Co. Nobody from there would commute to SUNY Plattsburgh for school-as the injured vet in the novel is discussed planning. It is over 2 hours on back roads through the A...more
I always hesitate when I see books by Joyce Carol Oates. The catalog descriptions generally intrigue me, but the books often disappoint. I was afraid that's what would happen when I began her newest novel, "Carthage." Fortunately, I was 100 per cent wrong.

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped catalog blurb gives as much information as it's smart to share about the plot; so I'll quote it here: Carthage, New York. Cressida Mayfield, a very smart but rather odd nine...more
I think Joyce Carol Oates is a wonderful writer. However, I found Carthage to be wordy and too broad. It digresses into an expose on the prison system and rails against war. I support those ideas, but it seemed like the story line was weakened by the detail, especially in the digression of the prison system. The flash-backs of torture and killing of civilians during war and comments about the montrosity of war were pertienent to the story. I found the comments about Cressida possibly having auti...more
This reminded me of We Were the Mulvaneys, which I liked better. I do admire Oates's skill in dropping us into the minds of very different characters. She does an especially effective job rendering the confused mind and emotions of Brett, the war veteran.

However, Cressida's side of the story doesn't feel as authentic, which makes it hard to care about the second half of the book. While the description of the prison tour is powerful, the storyline with Cressida and the researcher feels like an aw...more
Joyce Carol Oates has yet again, proven why she is one of the premier authors alive today with her new novel Carthage.

Juliette is in love with Brett - an Afghani war veteran. Brett has come home with some terrible injuries - both physically and mentally. He knows he loved Juliette before he went to Afghanistan, but he is unsure how he feels now and soon breaks off his engagement with her.

Cressida, Juliette's sister has long been secretly in love with Brett as well, and when the engagement with J...more
Oswego Public Library District
An unsettling story that centers on a missing girl and a young veteran of the Iraq War who may be responsible. The author explores complex issues of mental health, post-traumatic stress, and the culpability of various family members, employers, and teachers. The story is told from multiple points of view, allowing the reader to absorb different perspectives on the same issues. The will to survive and the power of forgiveness are powerful themes in the capable hands of Joyce Carol Oates. -GD

Vicki Elia
Audiobook Review
Narrated by Susan Erickson and David Colacci

A first and last read of Joyce Carol Oates. This book is a mind-numbing blithering bemoaning of the Mayfield family's self-made despair. An egregious waste of time.

Cressida, Juliet, Arlette and Zeno Mayfield, and almost son-in-law Brett Kincaid,experience a loss of a fiance first to the ravages of the Iraq war, then prison; the loss of a child and sister to a presumed violent death; the loss of the integrity of family and self-respect;...more
Jul 25, 2014 Doreen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: elle
3.5 stars.

My feelings towards Joyce Carol Oates are so ambiguous. I loved The Virgin In The Rose Bower (and am really looking forward to reading The Accursed because her mastery of Gothic horror is unparalleled by any other modern author, IMO,) but her more contemporary stuff too often leaves me cold. Granted, I've only read The Barrens and Black Dahlia & White Rose, but both were insufferable. Unfortunately the first 100-odd pages of Carthage display all the worst of her tendencies, particu...more
Camille Chidsey
Okay, initially I was going to give this book 3 stars because it was pretty boring in the beginning. I think 3.5/5 stars is more accurate. The book is divided into three sections, the first one being incredibly long and boring. The plot line was established in the beginning few pages and not much really happened character wise until about 150 pages in. I was about to put the book down (which I rarely do) because I couldn't see it going anywhere.

However, I was glad I didn't. The second section o...more
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What is your favorite book by Joyce Carol Oates? 5 18 May 22, 2014 01:41PM  
Carthage 4 25 Apr 22, 2014 10:11AM  
  • Bury This
  • Children of Paradise: A Novel
  • Our Picnics in the Sun
  • The Woman Who Lost Her Soul
  • State of Grace
  • The Bird's Nest
  • The Guts
  • That Old Black Magic
  • Thirty Girls
  • Starting Over
  • Bittersweet
  • Bellweather Rhapsody
  • Worthy Brown's Daughter
  • The Sun and Other Stars
  • The Two Hotel Francforts
  • The Parallel Apartments
  • Once Upon a Lie (Maeve Conlon, #1)
  • Four Plays: Come Back, Little Sheba / Picnic / Bus Stop / The Dark at the Top of the Stairs
Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Pseudonyms ... Rosamond Smith and Laure...more
More about Joyce Carol Oates...
We Were the Mulvaneys The Falls The Gravedigger's Daughter Blonde Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang

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“She had no existence, in herself. From earliest childhood she had believed this. Rather she was a reflecting surface, reflecting others' perception of her, and love of her.” 1 likes
“In slow drowning waves the knowledge washed over Cressida, her professor did not think that she was so special after all. He didn't know her father Zeno. Was that it?” 0 likes
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