Monday, April 21, 2014

Broke Heart Blues by Joyce Carol Oates Contemporary Literature Book Review

          I thought this was a nice change of pace for me in reading this book. It’s the story of John Reddy Heart and being a cult figure in his hometown. The story is told by thousands of narrators. They were people who he went to high school with, teachers, reporters, and TV stations as well. 

          The mystery starts when Reddy is accused of murdering Melvin Riggs, Jr, a business associate of his mother who is abusing her. She is known as Dahila Heart. Reddy is seen leaving the scene and is chased by the police for several days before he is captured. 

           The narration continues as he is arrested and put on trial, with all the people again explaining why Reddy wouldn’t commit such a crime. He has to be innocent. The story continues to a second trial and the outcome. 

            I don’t think the mystery is mean to be about Reddy’s guilt or innocence. It’s just the reacion of people who went to school with him and people who lived in the area. They are the narrators of this story. It’s as if he is a celebrity or a cult figure. 

             I like the way Oates told this story. As I said, it’s a nice change of pace for me and I think it’s an example of people who love to talk about the people they meet or went to school with, as if these students went to school with Sly Stallone. 

              This novel made me think of people who are talked about in the local town. It can be anybody and they can be someone could me the people in a town feel good about themselves or in some cases, make the people feel awful. 

               Even though Reddy is accused of murder, the people still don’t believe it, making all kinds of excuses. They even write a song about Reddy called the John Reddy ballad. 

               I think by doing this, Oates makes the story more interesting rather than just the case of a murder and the need to solve it. It’s more about how we worship people and put them on a pedestal. I don’t see any reason not to give this book five stars. 

Ron Hummer

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