So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

My Friend Dahmer

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
Having gruesomely murdered 17 young men, Jeffrey Dahmer is probably the most notorious serial killer in the USA. Derf Backderf went to school with Dahmer, and was even the president of the Dahmer Fan Club in their rural Ohio high school. Derf lost track of Dahmer in 1978 after graduation and went on to become a cartoonist. When he found out, along with the rest of the world, of Dahmer's 1991 arrest in Wisconsin he felt compelled to flesh out his memories and to write the story of the lonely, disturbed teenage Dahmer he knew. My Friend Dahmer is the result. In graphic novel form he tells all that he can of Dahmer's teen years. This is not the story of a serial murderer, instead it is the story of a teen age boy who never got any help from his family, his schools, or his community in dealing with the feelings growing inside him. In this book is the boy Derf knew in high school as he struggles with the challenges of growing up that for him were so overwhelming that they eventually lead to a murderous life.
Derf sees the teenage Dahmer as a tragic figure, but he has no sympathy for Dahmer the murderer, who he sees as a selfish coward who should have ended his own life rather than taking the lives of others. He draws from his own memories and others, as well as recorded interviews, FBI reports, newspaper stories, and Lionel Dahmer's book about his son. These are all listed in a 23 page section of "Sources" at the end of the book. While this book is called a graphic novel, it is more a biography than fiction, and is of great value in getting to understand the early years of a serial killer.

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