Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Columbine: The Review
I don't usually do back-to-back book commentaries, but I'm done with Columbine, and I'm hoping to put it behind me and move on to something lighter.
Don't get me wrong; it was a good book. A very good book. Dave Cullen is obviously an outstanding journalist, a top-notch researcher, and an engaging writer. It was thoroughly written, both as an overview of the school massacre and as a psychological study of the two killers. It is, in large part, a critique of the media, and on those of us in the public that demand news second-to-second, as it happens.
It is amazing - and sad - to see how much has been legislated or created based on the assumptions made the first 24 hours after the two kids walked into their high school and shot it up, and how much hasn't changed at all because the truth that developed later wasn't as interesting. It is incredible and frustrating how many myths still surround the killings.
I couldn't put the book down, or stop talking about it, which was a real downer for my husband, who couldn't really understand why I was interested in it in the first place. But it's the kind of book you want to talk about... talk it out.
It's the kind of book that gets under your skin, that lives in your head. While watching the fireworks on July 4th, I cringed at the explosive sounds, and wondered if the students there that day would ever be able to sit through fireworks again. I thought about them when I filled our propane tanks for the grill. I thought about them when I used a C2O cartridge for our seltzer bottle. I thought about them when I saw someone on TV in a trench coat. My head is full of images, even though the book doesn't have any pictures.
I taught middle school English for six years, and one of my first years I had a student eerily like Dylan Klebold. Quiet, depressive, combustible. Highly disturbing violent stories about knives and guns and blowing students to pieces... along with some unmentionable things that might happen to me if I didn't run away with him. Gosh, I shuddered reading this book and wondered what happened to that kid.
It's an excellent book, and one I would highly recommend to anyone interested in Columbine.
But I'm glad it's done, and instead of moving on to Crazy for the Storm, I'm taking a break with something lighter. Something fun a friend gave me to read for my birthday, which doesn't have anything to do with guns or bombs or SWAT teams or psychopaths or killings, or survival.
Something more summery. Something more befitting the pool and the sun. And an easy night's rest.