...an eloquent, terrifying, heartbreaking exploration of madness ... Joyce Carol Oates has a knack for diving into the psyche of the disturbed ... Oates is always compelling, and this story will appeal to fans of prison narratives where the killer is forced to confront his self.
...dark as night in atmosphere and subject matter ... Oates digs so deeply into the psyche of the murderous personality that it makes for rough reading in parts, but the subject matter is not and should not be sacrificed on the altar of the reader’s comfort zone. That said, this is not a volume that one who has not read Oates’ work should reach for as an introduction. Its publication, though, is still important and ultimately indispensable for anyone who is even marginally familiar with Oates, one of the great literary voices of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Boldly explicit, Oates’ tale of criminal psychosis draws on the druggy decadence, greed, sexism, and violence of Hollywood in the Charles Manson-Roman Polanski era ... Here is more evidence of Oates’ limitless, gruesome, and sympathetic imagination.
...a full-blown freak show of serial murder, psychological self-torment, and literal disintegration ... the defiant confession of this fictional counterpart of Charles Manson is horrific, often carnivalesque, but never salacious or sensationalistic ... What’s most memorable...is Oates’ mastery of distinctly different flavors of nightmare, from the surreal to the flat-out demented.