Sunday, October 23, 2005

50 Book Challenge: True Crime

I just finished a pretty lengthy account of the Green River killer case in Seattle. I don't usually read about serial killers -- as with books about husbands killing wives, there are just so many of them. Also, I prefer to read the stories about things going wrong in one family or whatever. Anyway, I do make exceptions if the author is one I like, and that was the case this time -- Green River, Running Red was written by Ann Rule, my very favorite true crime author. That said, I didn't really care for this book -- there were too many victims to keep straight and the meat of the story became more about the investigators. It wasn't badly done or anything like that, but I could recommend a number of Ann Rule books that were pretty amazing (If You Really Loved Me, Dead Before Sunset, And Never Let Her Go, Every Breath You Take, and, not for the meek, Small Sacrifices) and this wasn't one of them. I also found it pretty bizarre when, in the afterword, Rule referred to Scott Peterson being on Death Row at Alcatraz. Death Row in California is at San Quentin, and Alcatraz hasn't been used as a prison in many, many years -- and this was in the paperback version. Surely someone should have noticed that kind of an error at some point between printings.

Incidentally, I learned a facinating true crime fact recently, compliments of The Vine column at Tomato Nation. There is a excellent true crime book that I've actually read more than once called Evidence of Love, detailing the case of one Texas housewife who, in the early 80s, killed another Texas housewife with an ax. The author of this scintillating account is a guy named John Bloom, whose alter-ego is none other than Joe Bob Briggs, drive-in movie critic extraordinaire. How cool is that? BTW, if you click on that link, you will see that, guess what? Joe Bob Briggs in HOT. Who knew?

But I digress. Something I've been thinking about a lot lately, compliments of the Green River Killer book and a couple of other sources, is prostitution. Most of the GRK's victims were prostitutes, and when I was about a third of the way throught that book, I had to set it aside for a few days to read a book club book, Sleep Into Heaven, in which one of the main characters is a prositute-turned-killer (clearly modelled after real-life killer Aileen Wuornos, portrayed by Charlize Theron in the movie "Monster"). There is also a real-live woman on the reality TV show "Starting Over" (my latest addiction) trying to rebuild her life after a failed teen marriage and a need to support her son caused her to turn to stripping, scamming and prostituting herself in Las Vegas. I know this isn't any kind of a newsflash, but it kills me to think about how we have demonized prostitutes throughout history, insisting that their plight is the result of their own loose morals. In Sleep Into Heaven, the many stories of the victims of the GRK, and the story of this girl on "Starting Over," it's clear these women and girls resorted to turning tricks because they had no other options -- in many cases they were the daughters of prostitutes or desperate to leave terrible home situations, and often they were just trying to support themselves, children, drug habits, or "boyfriends" who were willing to pimp them out. The tragedy lies in their having to do such degrading and dangerous work to get by, but our focus as a society has always been on putting them in jail and blaming them for their negative effect on society. How sad.

With that, on to book #40, my second reading of the excellent The Eyre Affair, a sci-fi yarn set in a world where characters can be kidnapped out of their books. Fun stuff, and with only two days before book club, I'm feeling quite lucky that this month's selection is one I've read -- and enjoyed -- before.

1 comment:

Erin Nicole said...

i love the eyre affair. jasper came to the library here in st louis and held a book signing. he's yummy! ;)