Friday, April 1, 2016

That (true) Crime Lady

I've already mentioned that I think one of the smartest crime blogs out there is Sarah Weinman's The Crime Lady.  It is actually a newsletter, arriving every week or two, with thoughtful commentary about crime-related fiction (because straight-up mystery, while appreciated, isn't the focus of this), new fiction, popular culture related to fiction, and most interesting of all, true crime.  Weinman has a deep and darkish interest in true crime, reading and thinking and writing about it herself.  In this week's letter, you can learn about Howard Unruh, who killed twelve people in Camden, New Jersey in 1949, occasionally cited as the first mass shooting in America.  If you want to read how these kinds of events were reported 60+ years ago, Weinman directs you to this extraordinary piece of journalism written immediately after that event.  You can't stop reading it.  They don't do that anymore - why, can we not handle the syllables?

Of course, this is not the first mass shooting in America, by any count.  For an earlier example, just read Weinman's own BuzzFeed long piece about Glbert Twigg, who killed nine people and wounded many others in a shooting spree in Winfield Kansas, in 1903.  More great writing and storytelling.  This longform journalism business is the BOMB.

Well, you know that the point is that our world of fear and mass shootings isn't anything new.  Mental illness has always had a lot to do with it, and social alienation, and lack of opportunity, and all the stuff we talk about now.  Why do we have more now?  Maybe we talk about it too much, maybe we are lazy, maybe there are more of us, maybe there are more guns, maybe we are immune.  I just know that I don't want to have that feeling again that I had at school pickup on 12/14/12.  I don't think The Crime Lady will solve this but you should read her stuff anyway.  Knowledge is power!