David McConnell’s American Honor Killings is a Remarkable Literary Achievement.

Posted on March 14, 2013
Filed Under Book Review, Strong Recommendation | Comments Off on David McConnell’s American Honor Killings is a Remarkable Literary Achievement.

Some of the finest non-fiction crime writing can be found in David McConnell’s new book, American Honor Killings.  At it’s best, Mr. McConnell’s writing compares favorably to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer’s Executioner’s Song.  It is entirely appropriate that this book is dedicated to Edmund White, because, like Mr. White, David McConnell is the master of both the telling detail and the occasional punchline. An example:

“I’ve done some really awful, awful things,” Darrell says in a tone too ambiguous to be satisfying.  He means to be remorseful, but in the end, it’s just an observation.

That last sentence is actually funny–not because it’s trying to be funny, but because it’s true.  It’s also Ironic because the author is observing the murderer observing himself.

The subjects of this book don’t often find themselves rendered with the intelligence, dedication and even loving-kindness shown in these pages.  These are stories of men who have killed gay men.  (Or more accurately: men who were perceived to be gay.)  Mr. McConnell seems driven by a determination to learn not just the who, what, where and how, but also the why of these stories.  Were these hate crimes?  Gay panic?  By humanizing these stories Mr. McConnell frees them from constricting stereotypes and caricatures.  And what emerges are three-dimensional characters in horrifying situations.  It is a remarkable literary achievement.  And as often happens in great literature, the biggest questions remain unanswered.

David McConnell’s American Honor Killings: Desire and Rage Among Men is published by Akashic Books.

UPDATE 1/28/14: Today it was announced that American Honor Killings won the Stonewall Book Awards-Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award.

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