Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why can't I eat true crime?

The fact is, I can't consume it fast enough, especially in bite-sized pieces - although I like to savor it too.  Every year the geniuses at Ecco Books (I believe they only picked up the series a couple of volumes ago) publish The Best American Crime Reporting, which goes back in various incarnations (Crime Writing, etc.) to 2002.  My mother buys the yearly edition for me each Christmas and it's invariably the first thing I do once celebrations are over.  This year I managed to stretch out reading it until late January, which I considered a huge accomplishment.  Previous years I've consumed it in two days or less.  

Through the Best American series I found journalists whose careers I've begun to follow via their home magazines.  David Grann, who wrote of the mysterious death of a Sherlock Homes enthusiast in the 2005 anthology, writes regularly for The New Yorker.  Through the magazine's website I found an astoundingly good article about the Aryan Brotherhood called "The Brand," which is available as a 5.5MB .pdf download here.  The contents shocked me, so much so that the article fed my then-nascent interest in becoming part of the criminal justice system.  Mr. Grann later published a collection of his reporting in The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, which includes the aforementioned pieces and another astounding piece of journalism, which raises the question of whether Texas executed an innocent man on the basis of faulty forensic science.

Skip Hollingsworth's wonderful entries about Texas crimes in the anthologies led me to his home magazine, Texas Monthly, and two true crime anthologies published by the magazine.  A more recent edition, Texas Monthly on Texas True Crime, is still in print and well worth reading.  (Check out the Google Books preview at the link.)  I have yet to read an earlier, out-of-print (but available through used booksellers) Texas Monthly anthology, Texas Crime Chronicles, simply because I like to have a true crime anthology to rip into once I'm finished with the yearly Best American.  It's only a matter of weeks before my resistance breaks down.  In the meantime, I sometimes peruse the magazine's website and read true crime articles that haven't been anthologized.  It doesn't last me very long, what with the Luddite principles against reading off of screens.

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