When I read the newspaper or check the news online, I usually skip over crime stories. I may read the headlines and the opening paragraphs, if even that much, and go on to political, economic, and human interest stories. What can I get out of reading about another senseless murder? I'd rather spend my time with book reviews and stories about the arts and technology.
I was not a likely candidate to read A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger.
So, why did I do it?
Your honor and members of the jury, you might not expect me, mild-manner reader that I am, to take up a brutal book like A Death in Belmont. There are reasons that I acted so out of character.
- Lots of people were reading it. They kept recommending it to me. It was peer pressure.
- There just are not enough iPod books at my library. I have run through the ones that interest me. It was an act of desperation.
- I have recently seen two fascinating movies about Truman Capote's writing In Cold Blood. Junger's book also takes the readers back to the 1960s. I wanted another fix.
So, I plead that it was beyond my control to avoid A Death in Belmont. I listened to it on my iPod, and I do not regret a single minute. Well, maybe I squirmed while Junger described how the Boston Strangler killed some of his victims, and I almost wanted to cry when he told about the sad, sad fate of Roy Smith. I also felt exasperation and outrage during the reading of lengthy police interrogation of Smith. It was not pleasure reading, but it was compelling.
I promise now to read something more uplifting.
Junger, Sebastian. A Death in Belmont. New York: Norton, 2006. ISBN 0393059804