Who Wants to Read About Columbine?

That’s the question people whisper guiltily when they hear about the forthcoming book from Twelve, the high-profile Grand Central imprint, known for the savvy taste of its publisher and editor-in-chief, Jonathan Karp.

It happened last week when I did a presentation to ARRT (the Adult Readers Roundtable, the groundbreaking RA group, founded by Joyce Saricks and Merle Jacob). Publishers had sent a bounty of summer galleys for what I called “The Great Galley Challenge.” We had several copies of 13 titles publishers are betting on. The challenge — we presented each title and asked the group to volunteer to read two galleys and report on which ones they would buy extras of, to have on hand to recommend to customers, which ones they would recommend to reading clubs and which ones will generate long reserve lists.

I presented Columbine, one of the galleys I hadn’t read yet, and found it a tough sell.

On the Huffington Post yesterday, Jesse Kornbluth addresses just this issue in A Disturbing New Book About The Columbine Massacre Asks: Do You Know Who Your Children Are?:

Why Columbine is worth the pain and tears it will cost you to read it: Most of what you’ve heard is wrong… [it] presents a much more frightening story than the one you know.

Read Columbine for the stunning reportage. Admire the heroism of students and teachers. Forgive, if you can, the police ineptitude and, later, their predictable cover-up. But pay particular attention to the back story: the evolution of two would-be mass murderers. And then, instead of feeling blessed that this nightmare didn’t happen in your town, you might do better to ask yourself a variation of the line you hear on television at ten o’clock: Do you know who your children are?

In the current issue of Newsweek (4/6), the essay Columbine and Gen Why: 10 Years Later focuses on the book, saying it, 

… has the pacing of an action movie and the complexity of a Shakespearean drama.

Curiously, even though I did a dreadful job selling the book, ARRT members took all the copies we had. I can only guess that they wanted to see if the writer had the skill to make them willing to re-examine those awful events.

The book is by Denver journalist Dave Cullen, one of the first to cover the story. Below, he describes the book,

 The book is coming out on Monday. Several libraries I checked have not yet ordered it.

Dave Cullen
Retail Price: $26.99
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Twelve – (2009-04-06)
ISBN / EAN: 0446546933 / 9780446546935

It’s also available in audio from Blackstone and PlayAway:

  • 10 Tape, 1-4332-9042-8, $79.95
  • Playaway, 1-4332-9050-3, $69.99
  • MP3CD, 1-4332-9046-6, $29.95
  • 11 CD, 1-4332-9043-5, $109.95

For those interested in cover design, Columbine‘s jacket designer explains his process in this blog post: Columbine

2 Responses to “Who Wants to Read About Columbine?”

  1. Anne Slaughter Says:

    I have been reading the galley I took home from that ARRT program, and so far have found it to be a fascinating read. Huge appeal factors for people interested in true crime, and anyone curious about how the media obtains, communicates & fuels their stories. I also really respect the care and well-researched accountability with which he presents this story.

  2. Cari Says:

    I’ve been following your posts on this book–it definitely has an appeal factor for me, as another one of those Generation Y librarians. It happened two months before I graduated from high school. Also, I recently read Wally Lamb’s The Hour I First Believed, which I loved. So I had better get cracking on that book… I need to return it since there will definitely be reserves. (I guess first I have to finish A Reliable Wife though).