Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Shooter Walter Dean Myers

Len and his friends were bullied in their high school. They enjoyed letting off steam at the shooting range, but one day Len takes it too far by bringing his guns to school and opening fire before ultimately committing suicide.

The book takes place after the shooting and mostly told in interviews by police and psychologists with Len's friend Cameron. There's an interview with another friend, Carla, newspaper articles, and then Len's diary itself.

The "stuff" format works a bit differently here-- with the exception of the diary (which is included at the very end) it's telling a story of something that already happened, looking back. Usually, "stuff" is used in a hyper-real time so the reader can put together the clues to piece together the story to find out what's going on the same way/time as the characters piece together the story of their lives.

While this stands apart from many other "stuff" novels, the format does work really well for what Myers is doing. The different interviewers are going after different information for different reasons. Cameron's story is different than Carla's and different from Len's. Not only in terms of perspective, but some evidence directly contradicts other evidence and the format offered without extra commentary allows/forces the reader to come up with their own conclusions as to where the truth and blame lie in this tragedy.

It's not my favorite Walter Dean Myers title, but it's still interesting and good, as well as important.

Random thought-- I've never met Myers or heard him speak, but I have a very vivid image of him and the way he sounds that's entirely created by mashing up photos I've seen of him and the description of his class visit and voice in Love That Dog. I trust Sharon Creech hasn't steered me wrong, because I love the Walter Dean Myers in my head.

Book Provided by... my local library

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