Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dave Cullen's Columbine

I stopped reading Brenda Jackson's Irresistible Forces forces because there was just too much sex. (WTF, Anna? I know.) The thing is, the only conflict in the book was that maybe the couple was falling in love even though that wasn't their intention, and conflict is what makes romance great. There was no anticipation, no coyness, nothing held back.

Totally a bizarre way to start a post about a hard-core journalistic nonfiction book about a school shooting,
I know, but after quitting that book, I wanted the other extreme--a serious book. Dave Cullen's Columbine is of course sad, terrifying, and gruesome. But it is also a fascinating psychological study of the killers and a detailed look at what the media got wrong and how the media affected witness testimony and public perception even to today.

My turn from one book to the other was all based on tone. I was over the sensuous, light, romantic, escapist tone of the sexy romance and wanted something gritty and grounding. Cullen's book has good characterization, as he follows some of the most famous survivors of the tragedy as well as the victims, killers, and their families. It's a fast-paced read, despite details of the plan, Harris and Klebold's journaling and emotional lives, and other students' relationships with and perspectives on them. For nonfiction, the language is descriptive, and Cullen writes at times to echo the thought patterns of angry young men or the devoted principal.

1 comment:

  1. Cullen , who first reported on the story for the online magazine Salon, acknowledges in the book's source notes that thoughts he attributes to Klebold and Harris are conjecture gleaned from the record the pair left behind.

    Jeff Kass takes a more straightforward approach in "Columbine: A True Crime Story," working backward from the events of the fateful day.
    The Denver Post

    Mr. Cullen insists that the killers enjoyed "far more friends than the average adolescent," with Harris in particular being a regular Casanova who "on the ultimate high school scorecard . . . outscored much of the football team." The author's footnotes do not reveal how he knows this; when I asked him about it while preparing this review, Mr. Cullen said he did not necessarily mean to imply that Harris was sexually active. But what else would such words mean?

    "Eric and Dylan never had any girlfriends," the more sober Mr. Kass writes, and were "probably virgins upon death."
    Wall Street Journal