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HAZ­ARDS OF TIME TRAVEL Joyce Carol Oates Loot.co.za (R286) 4TH ES­TATE

JOYCE Carol Oates dis­patches nov­els at such a rate you won­der if she has time to read a news­pa­per.

Yet such is her unerring abil­ity to re­flect the times in which we live, that you can con­clude only that this mighty Amer­i­can writer sim­ply never sleeps.

Here, she taps deep into con­tem­po­rary anx­i­eties over the rise of sur­veil­lance, to­tal­i­tar­ian gov­ern­ments and in­va­sive tech­nol­ogy, through the story of Adri­ane – a pre­co­cious teenager in a fu­ture Amer­ica, who is ar­rested fol­low­ing a sub­ver­sive high school speech.

Her pun­ish­ment is to be tele­ported back to 1959, where she must live among stu­dents of an in­tel­lec­tu­ally con­ser­va­tive col­lege.

There, she stud­ies be­havioural psy­chol­ogy un­der the tute­lage of Ira Wolf­man, a man she soon sus­pects might be a fel­low trans­gres­sor in ex­ile. Adri­ane, crip­pled by lone­li­ness, is an easy pro­tag­o­nist for whom to root.

But such is the slip­pery clev­er­ness of this novel that one is in­creas­ingly un­clear if the dystopias in which she lives are real, vir­tual or some­thing else. |

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