Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My friend Dahmer

MY FRIEND DAHMER by Derf Backderf. Abrams, 2012.

A graphic novel about Jeffrey Dahmer? Who would have ever imagined this? But Backderf, who attended high school with Dahmer, offers incredible insight into the making of the serial killer. Being a teen in the 1970s seemed rather easy, but Backderf notes that Dahmer's life not simple. Parents who were in the process of a bitter divorce who shouted vitriol at one another until his father moved out; a mother who was taking all manner of pharmaceuticals and who had episodes of strange and siturbing behavior. Add to this mixture other adults who did not notice (or elected to ignore) the increasingly strange behavior of Dahmer himself and his increased use of alcohol to get through the day, and you have the makings for someone whose view of others and his own role in the world is seriously askew. Backderf manages to create a portrait of Dahmer as a person rather than the caricature presented by the media when his crimes were uncovered. How many other potential Dahmers might there be in our world? Backderf's storytelling uses spare text and haunting illustrations to pull readers into the world of Jeffrey Dahmer.

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