Adding to Joyce Carol Oates' 3 children's books, 6 YA books, 9 books of plays, 10 books of poetry, 11 books under two pseudonyms, 16 books of nonfiction, 27 books of stories, and 41 previous novels, Daddy Love [Kindle] maps new terrain in her signature explorations of race, class, gender, violence, sex, and abuse redeemed by keen psychological insight and deft literary style. Here, in her 124th book, Oates swaps her frequent theme of men violating women for a plot about a man who abducts boys. Her 1995 trip inside the head of a male serial killer who preyed on young men, Zombie [Kindle], won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel.
Although his transgressive fiction is very different, and always features fully developed adolescents, most of whom begin their fateful encounters willingly or ambivalently, Dennis Cooper would be the ideal critic to review this extreme character study. Short of that,
"Oates’ daring journey through the labyrinths of criminal minds takes a fierce turn in this unflinching yet restrained tale of the sick symbiosis between an abducted child and his fiendish captor. Dinah, a white woman living in Michigan, defied her nasty mother to marry Whit, a black radio personality. They love and adore their son, Robbie, who is a smart if high-strung five-year-old when a stranger ambushes Dinah in a mall parking lot, grabs her son, and nearly kills her when she desperately runs after his van. Known as Chester Cash, a secretive itinerant preacher and craftsman, this monster calls himself Daddy Love as he conducts his gruesome regime of torture, rape, and reward, which we witness from both his and Robbie’s perspectives over the course of six grim years. For all the horror and sensationalism of her wrenching subject, Oates judiciously charts Robbie’s brutal metamorphosis and Dinah’s resilience in an urgently compelling and drastically revealing study of evil, habitual terror, and survival."
And PW says:
"At the start of this gripping psychological thriller from Oates, Dinah Whitcomb is playing the 'find our car' game with her five-year-old son, Robbie, in the parking lot of an Ypsilanti, Mich., mall when a stranger seizes the boy and runs over Dinah in his van, maiming her. Robbie is renamed Gideon by Daddy Love, his abductor, who has kidnapped several little boys through the years, killing them when they’re adolescents and 'too old' for him. The outside world knows Daddy Love as Chet Cash, a loving father, a sensitive artist, and itinerant preacher. Spanning six years, the action shifts between Gideon and Daddy Love, who’s quick to mete out cruel punishments, and Dinah and her husband, bonded by guilt in a crumbling marriage. The creep factor ramps up when the intuitive Gideon realizes that he’s not Daddy Love’s only 'son' and the fate that awaits him. This unsettling tale showcases Oates’s masterful storytelling."
JCO's 125th book, her 43rd novel, The Accursed, is coming in March and in August she'll release Evil Eye: Four Novellas of Love Gone Wrong. Alas, she turns 75 this year and will never catch Georges Simenon or Nora Roberts or Isaac Asimov who published 506 books or Barbara Cartland who wrote 722 novels.