Monday, December 31, 2012

Year End Wrapper Upper

It is actually February 10th as I write this.  All I can say is... 26 books - not bad for a new parent!

I was my closest ever to 50 books the previous year.  And I really don't think I'll have a chance in a long long long long time to even come close to 41 books again.  But never say never.

2012 saw a wide variety of fiction (from upbeat to depressing to downright disturbing) and non-fiction, though the latter was comprised mainly of pregnancy and birthing books.  There will be a few child-rearing type books this year, but I would love to continue exploring a diverse range of fiction again. 

My output has definitely slowed, even though I'm on mat leave, it is no surprise what a time-consuming task this baby raising thing is.  But I'm finding time, whether it's taking a brief soak in the tub or just before going to sleep, even a couple of pages a day is something!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

26. My Friend Dahmer

By Derf Backderf

I don’t think I had ended up posting about having read the Green River Killer: A True Detective Story by Jeff Jensen, which I read last year (I think). Both GRK and My Friend Dahmer were loans courtesy of DS. Not counting From Hell, this is the second graphic novel I’ve read about modern day serial killers.

Obviously, comics about notorious serial killers have to tread carefully with utmost sensitivity for such a gruesome subject. It helps to have a personal connection, like how Jensen’s father was one of the lead detectives investigating the Green River Killer case that lead to the (very) eventual capture of Gary Ridgway, and how Backderf was a high school classmate and one-time “friend” of Jeffrey Dahmer. It also helps that both these comics were well-researched, well-written and nicely illustrated – gripping without being too sensational, and thoughtful without being too indulgently maudlin.

Both comics make a point of exploring how Ridgway and Dahmer tried to stop or control their dark compulsions. Ridgway would put rocks inside his victims bodies so he would not be compelled to go back to their corpses. Dahmer became a hardcore alcoholic by the time he graduated from high school in a desperate effort to dull his increasingly powerful urges. This is not to excuse their crimes but more to provide some modicum of humanity as Ridgway and Dahmer struggle vainly to battle their own monsters.

 Like most people, I’m mildly fascinated about serial killers. It’s not just about the horrific crimes they committed, but because I’m so freaking normal, I can’t help but wonder how they got that way. My Friend Dahmer makes a notable attempt to understand how a sad and lonely teenager who grew up in a bucolic 1970’s suburb became one of the most infamous serial killers in history. And frankly, Backderf’s graphic novel satisfied this morbid fascination of mine.