Early on in The Book of Matt, journalist Stephen Jimenez states, "this (investigation) is not a matter of blaming the victim but rather a conscientiou...moreEarly on in The Book of Matt, journalist Stephen Jimenez states, "this (investigation) is not a matter of blaming the victim but rather a conscientious attempt to understand the complex relationship that sometimes exists between victims and perpetrators." His central premise is that Matthew's death had more to do with the Laramie drug trade than with gay hate. Contrary to the official narrative, Matthew did not meet two strangers in a bar who then beat him to death because he was gay. Matthew and the men who killed him were all part of the local drug trade, and the crime may have been motivated by meth rage rather than homophobia.
To support his theory, he interviews a dozen or so people important to the case, including the two killers and two of Matthew's exes. There are a lot of interesting details revealed throughout the investigation. For instance, both the killers were dating women whose mothers were in lesbian relationships. Several sources go on the record stating that killer Aaron McKinney was actively bisexual. There is also a compelling bit where the mother of Russell Henderson (the second killer, who was tried separately from McKinney and pled out) is murdered while he is awaiting trial.
Jimenez states repeatedly that he is a gay man, as if this qualifies him to be objective. I think it should be noted that objectivity is a learned skill, not an innate trait. In addition, there is a larger, more pernicious shadow cast by his theories. Jimenez seems to be minimizing the reality of homophobia in the U.S. and implying that it exists more in the minds of gay activists than the general public. This bizarre theory doesn't even fit with his own set of facts. If it is true, as he claims, that Aaron McKinney is bisexual and had a relationship with Matthew (which McKinney denies), that doesn't mean that the killing wasn't a hate crime. It has never been stated that gay hate crimes can't be committed by gay and bisexual people. Aaron's self-hatred may well have driven the attack just as much as drugs did. This is exactly why activists are trying to create a more tolerant society; no gay or bisexual person should feel rage about their identity.
All in all, this is a very strange investigative piece. It is by turns fascinating and repetitive, revealing and socially irresponsible. I did not enjoy it very much.(less)
**spoiler alert** If memory serves, an early draft of Fatal Attraction featured a plot in which the female lead kills herself and sets up her married...more**spoiler alert** If memory serves, an early draft of Fatal Attraction featured a plot in which the female lead kills herself and sets up her married lover to look like the murderer. This was one of many thoughts that came to mind as I read this book, which has some good suspense and social commentary mixed in with broad characterizations and implausible events. (Another thought I had: when the author, in the acknowledgements, thanked her husband "Brett", my first inclination was that she was married to Brett Easton Ellis. She isn't.) I'm not sure I believe anyone would be driven to the extremes of these two leads, nor do I think anyone could get away with this type of creative, high-concept crime. (For one thing, what about Amy's history of setting people up? Aren't the police going to stumble onto that?) I was entertained until the last stretch, at which point it started to seem a bit silly. And, yet, it was a good read. I liked it. I'll be curious to see what tone the movie takes. I'm expecting something like American Psycho.(less)
Gripping from start to finish, with keen psychological insights and location detail. Note to editors of future editions: I know of no one in the State...moreGripping from start to finish, with keen psychological insights and location detail. Note to editors of future editions: I know of no one in the States who goes "to university" and no one who orders a "takeout latte."(less)
I enjoyed a look into this world by an author who is familiar with it, but I also thought there were too many characters and that the central mystery...moreI enjoyed a look into this world by an author who is familiar with it, but I also thought there were too many characters and that the central mystery lacked imagination. I didn't get the humor, either.(less)