We are a nation of outlaws. It’s in our history. It’s in our blood.
Our first colony in Massachusetts was settled as a sanctuary and refuge for those souls brave enough to defy the Anglican Church. These men and women were the first American heroes and they were rebels one and all. That their ancestors should rise up in 150 years later and throw off the shackles of British tyranny was inevitable. We are a nation of outlaws. What was the Civil War, really, but a recreation of the Revolution from a Southern point of view?
We are not a people who respond well to authority.
Is it any wonder then, where our sympathies lie? Of course the chroniclers of the Wild West preferred Billy the Kid to Pat Garrett. Of course we all know the legend of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but how many of us can mention – or even care about - the Pinkerton detectives who were on their trail?
Look at our literature. Look at our theatre. Time and again, our fascination sides with the felon, the ne’er-do-well, the desperado.
Movies made about Charles Lindbergh (as of 2012): 3
Movies made about Al Capone (as of 2012): 27
By sales alone, who is the most popular American comic book character of the 20th century? Not that “overgrown Boy Scout” Superman. Not “guilt-ridden” Spider-Man. According to industry experts, the most popular comic book character of the 20th century was the shadow-dwelling vigilante Batman.
Of course he was.
So is it any wonder, then, that we as a nation would become so fascinated by serial killers? As an ever-growing government has euthanized our convictions and emasculated our passions, we recognize in the serial killer a figure of unabashed liberty, and we are attracted.
Let there be no misunderstanding: murder is reprehensible. The thesis of this text will be an analysis of the recent series of murders committed by Henry “Galileo” Booth in the context of the outlaw mystique. If you are looking for a championing of men such as him, look elsewhere. There is a vital line between attraction and acceptance.
John Dillinger is much more appealing from afar.
Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil wrote that when gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes back into us. Hold my hand. Take a breath. The abyss we are about to study in its dark geography is at the very core of America and its honesty cleanses with acid.
Are you ready?
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
WOMAN SAVES LIVES, LOSES PRIVACY
Given that Esme Stuart is the featured character in my series at MIRA and given that the second book in the series, Before Cain Strikes, comes out this April, I hope I'm not spoiling anyone's suspense when I tell you that, at the end of the first book in the series, While Galileo Preys, she doesn't die and, in fact, triumphs over the villain.
I know, I know. It's shocking.
I bring this up because one of the main threads running through Before Cain Strikes is the particularly American notion that "mass murderers" become "celebrities to the masses." We see names like Aileen Wuornos and Ted Bundy and we know immediately who they are. Their victims aren't famous, but these dark-hearted predators are. The murderer at the heart of my first novel, a rather overzealous man named Henry Booth, uses a sniper rifle to end the lives many, many innocents before he's finally brought to justice; as Before Cain Strikes opens, another man, Grover Kirk, is doing research for a book he's writing about the Henry Booth shootings.
We all know these true crime exposes, don't we? Some of us even own a few. They usually come out with remarkable alacrity and sell quite well in their first month on the shelves until the Next Big Bad comes along and distracts the focus of an attention-deficit public. To cement the legitimacy of his book, Grover Kirk attempts to land a one-on-one interview with the woman who took down Henry Booth, and a great deal of the novel follows the various ways he stalks and insinuates himself into Esme's life, all to land that exclusive interview which will set his work above and beyond all imitators. Because of her heroic actions, Esme has become something of a celebrity-by-proxy, and therefore, especially in this age of information, her right to privacy - her family's right to privacy - has been compromised.
And then the shit hits the fan.
On this subject of murderer-as-celebrity, here are the first pages of Grover's final draft (which serve as a sort of overture to Before Cain Strikes):
And that's how Before Cain Strikes opens.
It's now available for pre-order on Amazon.com.
But you should really buy While Galileo Preys first. Do it for Esme. She could use your support.