True Crime

People who are really interested in the way literature works often love true crime novels.

True crime novels are still very much novels. The author takes facts and arranges them in a way that support the author’s narrative. The narrative often has to do with whether the accused is guilty or not. In case it’s impossible to create doubt about guilt, the narrative is about motive. The author creates a motive and arranges the facts to support it.

These texts tend to lack any aesthetic merit, and as a result, all of the technical aspects of fiction writing are open to view. True crime novels are like autopsies of the novelistic genre. [I had surgery today, so please don’t expect very elegant writing from me. Just expect lots of it as I’m recovering in bed.]

It gives me almost physiological pleasure to rummage in the innards of fiction writing as I read true crime novels.


A couple had 3 stillborn children one after another. Years later, the husband killed himself.

“I have no idea what could have caused it,” the wife chirped. “He hasn’t had any significant trauma.”

I’m sure trying to grieve the death of three children with such a thick-skinned emotional hippopotamus of a wife by his side had absolutely nothing to do with the man’s suicide.


Also, one would hope that a Humanities scholar, of all things, would be more aware of how neoliberal mentality manufactures human alienation and promotes the belief that everybody is your enemy, everybody is out to hurt you, nobody can be trusted, we are all isolated individuals who have to look out for themselves because community is dead. Maybe a good way to resist this mentality is not to assume that the colleagues who are interested in your career path are racist dipshits and to be a little more open to the possibility that they are simply being curious.

Yet the reality is that it’s precisely the Humanities folks who are eager to push the narrative that everybody is an evildoer on the lookout to sabotage you.

Invented Victimhood

And of course, we experiencethe usual indignities of being a person of color: explaining for the umpteenth time why we are not teaching Chinese/Japanese/Korean or answering the variously inflected “How did you get into Italian?”

I get this question absolutely every single time I mention to absolutely anybody whatsoever that I teach Spanish. And I’m obviously not a person of color.

It is, indeed, quite unusual for a Ukrainian to teach Spanish or for an Asian person like the linked author to teach Italian. It is very boring to answer the same question thousands of times but I fail to see an evil intention behind it. Moreover, I’d also assume there is an interesting story behind, say, a Honduran or a Nigerian scholar teaching Ukrainian and I would be interested in hearing it.