The Monster of Florence

July 6th, 2006 → 8:16 am @

Wow — I had no idea so many people felt so strongly about Jon Friedman. Kind of makes me feel bad for the guy.

Anyway, as I know as well as anyone, there’s no shortage of subjects for those looking to engage in critical media analysis (although as someone who spent several months poring through newspaper reports from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, I can say unequivocally that the level of reporting and writing is far better today than it has ever been…but I digress). But I’m not one of those curmudgeons determined to search out what’s wrong with the world.

This article in the July/August issue of The Atlantic reminded me of how thrilling long-form journalism can be. It’s partly a history of the Monster of Florence, a serial killer who roamed the Italian hillsides from 1968 until 1985, and partly a narrative about crime novelist Douglas Preston’s involvement in the case. The full article is only available online for Atlantic subscribers, but the magazine’s website does feature an interview with Preston. I’ve always been a true-crime junkie, and Preston’s tale–like Blake Eskin’s Granta piece about Benjamin Wilkormirski or James Ellroy‘s and Steve Hodel‘s works on the Black Dahlia–belongs in my favorite subset of the genre: a story that combines a chilling tale with personal history. It’s well worth picking up a copy of the magazine to check this out.

(An aside: has any book title been more ripped off than Janet Malcolm’s The Journalist and the Murderer? Try doing a Google search: you need to wade through a lot of other pieces that have appropriated the name of Malcolm’s classic…which remains, sixteen years after it was printed, one of the definitive texts about the conflicts and quandaries of practicing journalism.)

(Another aside: with five days until the release of Feeding the Monster, it’s likely my posting will slow down a bit as I nurture my anxiety, er, prepare for my book tour. I know that promise might seem a little empty, but this time I’m serious. I think. I do have some more outtakes and sneak peeks fired up and ready to go. Oh, and also, there’s only four more days to enter the Monster Sweepstakes.)

Post Categories: Jon Friedman & Journalist and the Murderer & The Atlantic