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Watching People Burn Paperback – November 30, 2011
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About the Author
After graduating magna cum laude from Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin), Dr. Julian Darius obtained his M.A. in English, authoring a thesis on John Milton and utopianism. In 2002, he moved to Waikiki, teaching college while obtaining an M.A. in French (high honors) and a Ph.D. in English. His controversial dissertation became the novel NIRA/SUSSA. In 1996, while still an undergraduate, Darius founded what would become Sequart Research & Literacy Organization, which promotes comic books as a legitimate art through its website, books, and documentary films. Darius currently lives in Illinois.
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Top customer reviews
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It was a complete disappointment. The only good things about this book were the photographs that were included.
Was he insane, misguided, or just pure evil? Could this have been prevented if only someone saw the signs? The author doesn't answer these questions, I'm glad he doesn't . The screenplay/book is not a case study of the mind of a mass murderer. It has brought to light a tragedy that few know about, during a time when America was thought to have been "innocent" of such extreme acts of violence. Sometimes, the terrorist is living next door.
This books is a screenplay written formatted into chapters. The first scene describes children in a rural Michigan town getting on the bus to school, a very normal thing. Then we read a description of the bomb going off in the school basement. I was hooked and could barely put the book down after that! The book includes photos from the Toledo Blade newspaper and Monty Ellsworth.
We go back in time and learn about the life and personal history of Andrew Kehoe, who will eventually cause the blast that will kill over forty people. Darius gives us "snapshots" of events in Kehoe's childhood: his mother's death of TB, watching his stepmother burn to death in a kitchen accident and saving his nickels (early signs of his frugality). Time moves forward. We meet his wife, Ellen "Nellie" (Price) Kehoe. We see them moving into their farmhouse outside Bath, MI. Because the screenplay begins with the school bombing, the rest of the story has an overshadowing of foreboding. Each combined event offers clues to Kehoe's motivation.
The story is an interesting character study of Andrew Kehoe. He is frugal to a fault. He is good with his hands but worthless as a farmer. He's impulsive and inconsistent. He nurses a grudge against the school superintendent for years. He feels overburdened by the tax imposed to open the consolidated school in Bath. It could be a cautionary tale. (How suspicious should we be of our peculiar neighbors?) If Andrew Kehoe shows the darkness of humanity, then the people of Bath show the best. The townspeople pull together to rescue the children from the school, create a triage unit and support one another in the weeks after.
This novel is a screenplay and it's the responsibility of the reader to fill in details. To create a "movie" in their own minds. I found myself trying to choose actors for each character and creating a soundtrack in my mind! I believe this makes the story more powerful. It forces you to imagine scenes and details.
I feel that some of the dialogue is over simplified. Kehoe and his family state several times "I am frugal." and "I am thrifty." If this were a traditional novel I'd say the author is "telling" instead of "showing."
This is a compelling story that has relevance to the modern world.