It doesn’t appear to be at Crime Magazine anymore, and I can’t imagine having thrown out my copy in the days leading up to my move from Seattle. The review is outside my current theme of bashing Amazoners, but its absence was discovered in the midst of all the fun.
I GIVE IT 5 STARS, IT’S IN MY TOP 3 FAVORITE BOOKS!
The book is very interesting, it makes you think and gives you some ideas, but I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone, nor would I ever recommend this to children!
Nico, I was counting on you to spearhead my comeback after three straight subpar showings, but this review is just too vague to extract any meaning other than that it is possible for a person to love Monstrous if they have a certain cast of mind. What’s worrisome though is speculating as to what cast of mind exactly are we talking about here? What kind of ideas does it give you???
NOT MUCH TO SAY
Here we have a long winded and very tedious story of a young man who enjoys walking around all day and night. We also are privy to his eating and sleeping and [masturbating]. Sometimes he follows people around and pretends to hurt them and sometimes he just [masturbates] some more. Kinda describes the daily activities of [a lot] of people I know. But thankfully, they don’t feel the need to write 600 pages about their wandering around and [masturbating].
I take it all back– I am NOT always annoyed. This is my very favorite review. I know it by heart and love to recite it at odd times during the day. Ah, what is love? It is the pure distillation into poetry of how the typical Monstrous knocker views my book, coming from a person who has satisfied me that she actually read it.
SICK AND SELF-ABSORBED
a waste of time. waste of publishing money. i kept thinking it would get somewhere. it never did.
REVOLTING, BUT HARDLY MONSTROUS
Though “Serial Killer” jumps out from the title, the author never came close to becoming one, so it seems that the title is to lure in unsuspecting readers. The sexually deviant content is told in [sickening] detail, and I have to admit I couldn’t read all 600 pages of it.
Coupla sick puppies of the highest order here, judging by what little they’ve written, both of them evidently having rooted for me to eviscerate somebody and get eviscerated in turn between murders numbers one and two so that I might fall short of qualifying for being a serial killer. Instead they were met with a one-time serial diddler (faint!) who found love and lived happily ever after.
I don’t know what else I can do to prevent the words “serial killer” from
at you. The lettering on my most recent edition’s cover is all in lowercase, and in unusually small typeface for a subtitle. Can words be leashed, I wonder.
(original review location)
WELL WORTH READING
Who am I kidding? I loved Deviant Crimes founder Bryan Nelson’s review. I am thankful for having such a detailed and thoughtful review to showcase on Amazon from someone who *got* Monstrous. This professional who treats sex offenders and who has painstakingly researched serial murder for many years is the one who most saw my potential (for becoming a murderer).
Here my lamentations are primarily about his muted, buttoned-down tone when I know Bryan to be capable of letting loose privately, of gushing about a book that perhaps he loves too much for comfort instead of hiding behind academia, playing it dry and understated in keeping with the tenor of his colleagues and the rest of his library. Yes, he is another reviewer I corresponded with. I promise though that all who are yet to get theirs reviewed of their own free will.
Though I appreciated his objectivity, I think he carried it to the point of mania, docking me a star for the disappointment or disgust that he imagined other readers might feel. C’mon, Bryan, what did you think? You read the freaker twice back-to-back, all 600 pages though let’s not get excited– a simple change in trim size has since lowered the count to 500– and after you posted the review you said that you’d picked the book up a third time. You are scribbling in the margins; you are copying pages for use in your classroom. You are NOT ALLOWED to dock me a star when I have changed your life.
To which you are supposed to respond, ‘What a breath of fresh air!’ Because I really do want more readers and more chances to be annoyed. I loved when Anne Rice gave her readers what-for amidst the Amazon reviews for Blood Canticle (her post has since been deleted though you can still get a sense of its contents from subsequent reviews), and when Thomas Harris crapped all over his Clarice Starling heroine in Hannibal, likewise soiling his faithful. There is no doubt your ilk deserves it, and none whatsoever either that you’ve historically gotten off too easy, for all the mousy authors who wouldn’t dare speak up at the risk of alienating their base.
It doesn’t matter if you loved Monstrous or not– you will always find a way to annoy me. My ‘mindfuck’ reviewer loved my book like you wouldn’t believe; he was rolling on the floor laughing his ass off seemingly all the way through, which was great except for one thing–
MY LIFE’S NOT A GODDAM COMEDY!
In that case and that case only, my feeling of annoyance dissipated to nothing over time, and I want to thank Andy Cheek for showing me that it really is possible to interpret my book that way. I have since adopted a comedic voice when re-reading Monstrous aloud, and frankly love the feeling of revisiting my words from a place where the hurt is gone.
As for the rest of you, specifically you reviewers on Amazon, I am sick of staring at those stagnant critiques sitting there year after year without a proper rebuttal.
AN UNPOLISHED BUT INTERESTING COMING-OF-AGE TALE
A period of insomnia and a head cold allowed me to read this book over a two day period, and I just finished a few minutes ago.
That lead is the one sentence Grover didn’t copy and paste from her BookCrossing review to Amazon. My heart sank when I read it, as a portent of things to come. She was tired and wired in a bad head space when I needed her fully engaged, and two days for an occasionally dense and always subtle, 500ish page book suggested that she reads for speed, and that comprehension was low on her list of priorities. She launched into her Monstrous review without any time soaking it in.
It is incredibly difficult to comment upon (and certainly to critique) someone’s autobiography….especially someone kind enough to share his words with us ravenous BookCrossers. However, my brief correspondence with MonstrousWalker leads me to believe that he is looking for honest opinions, so here goes….
I asked for it…and I got it. Of course, it is incredibly awkward as a self-published author to have to additionally wear the hats of publicist and distributor, and a number of readers have imagined themselves to be reading rejected first drafts, taking on the tones of walking-on-eggs Creative Writing Workshop supporters as they fish for the reasons my novice manuscript must have been rejected instead of opening themselves up to the possibility they were in for the ride of their life. The mindset is ruinous to a reader’s potential enjoyment even if they start to catch on that they’re reading a wonderful book, due to the time lost at the table setting stage chasing typos that aren’t there and what have you.
The book is MonstrousWalker’s version of the book that each voracious reader thinks he/she has in him/her, but MonstrousWalker has taken the brave step of actually completing it, so kudos.
Those who can, write. Those who can’t, read. I was voracious in early childhood when I had the subversive Dr. Seuss to hang out with, but was not that much of a reader by the time I wrote Monstrous, because of the lack of worthy reading in alignment with my interests. The book I wanted to read didn’t exist, so I had to write it myself.
Yes, it was kind of brave, to attack that glass ceiling as a perp in a literary sea of victims, when I was not in prison and hadn’t bothered studying statutes of limitations, but could you be any more condescending? ‘Brave’ to prostrate my trembling soul before your mentoring benevolence? Your profile says you are older than the protagonist, but quite a bit younger than the author.
That said, as a diary of a man’s life, it is amazing.
Ha– I got ya! Something for my Monstrous Quotables. As a diary of a man’s life, it is amazing.
As a book to be read and enjoyed by others it is sorely in need of a good editor. The book was simply too long and repetitive in numerous spots. It was FILLED with grammatical errors (a pet peeve of mine, and I’ll admit that there are others who are not bothered by this at all)
This one speaks to the headline about my tale being ‘unpolished’, when it is hard to imagine an author applying more loving devotion to the buffing and polishing of his tale than my obsessive self applied. I had a self-perception to live up to, that of being arguably the best writer who ever lived, and I was not going to let my words see the light if I thought my book couldn’t be argued for as the best book ever written.
Monstrous is not an exhaustive laundry list. I followed a woman here, and I followed a woman there, and I followed a woman everywhere, yes. But it’s the here, there and everywhere that moves the story along. Please let us not fixate on the fact I kept following women. I never told an anecdote that didn’t introduce an important new if subtle point; you just need some radar for subtlety.
I might have missed that day of school when they taught how to use prepositions, but in the main I doubt this is what you’re referring to. No grammatical usage is in error if I made the choice on purpose, and indeed I made many choices in favor of spoken English as it’s heard in my neck of the woods over how it’s traditionally written. Me and Rhodes scholar Bill Clinton are fond of “me and him”, just as a frinstance.
– while I’ll agree with the sum of MW’s teacher’s who apparently told him he was a good writer, they might well have encouraged him to spend a bit more time on the mechanics of English usage. The substance is there, however, and MW can be justly proud of the result.
I was told about the quality of my writing now and then, and have ascribed to these moments very little significance. More often it was a stolen look that passed from teacher to ‘Tommy’, conveying an astonishment that they should encounter a student of my caliber in their lifetime. Where you might be confused, and goodness knows I have been at fault in propagating the myth, is in the fact my book wasn’t quite ‘written’. It was tape recorded and transcribed first, as a means of quickly getting my story down in however unwieldy a form so I could see the end from the beginning. The irony is that the bulk of my work was in forever whittling down, whittling down, and shuffling text around to their ideal locations. I spouted my mouth for 120 hours, mindlessly transcribed, then hunkered to the task of editing.
As to the main “character”, I found him “monstrous” only in the banality of his perceived problems. The book read as if it should have been subtitled, “Teen Angst, Plus One”.
We have got to get past the world of fiction’s– and the fictionalized real world’s– perception of serial killers. Abnormal normality is in fact part of the profile. A person with no identity is free to become a composite of everyone in the world.
So you hate yourself, you hate your parents,
Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! A little less projection, please! I hated situations, never members of my own family.
you feel you don’t fit in, you can’t get girls, you feel sexually unfulfilled, and you go through a bad teen-age break-up? That is the story of nearly EVERY adolescent, and one that doesn’t require 600 pages of exploration.
I sold myself as normal, and you bought it. That’s what I’ve been doing, and what you all have been doing, my entire life. That was half the battle.
I assume the “serial killer” hook was intended as nothing more than a come-on to catch potential readers. I saw nothing in our narrator that would have ever [led] me to believe that he was capable of any but trivial crimes – a kid stealing shoes off the street does not a serial killer make.
The only thing that makes a serial killer is killing people serially. And the only claim my title makes is that I was not a serial killer. “There but for the grace of God go I” is a principle that has been operating just fine without me since time immemorial, though I gave its illumination a whirl through every word I wrote. Get yourself a clue.
I was also a bit put off by the narrator’s repeated references to his “homelessness”. He may have WANTED to feel rootless, but to describe himself [as] “homeless” when he went hungry for about 48 hours and was never more than a phone call away from his loving parents is rather an insult to those who do not enjoy the sorts of options that the narrator [had].
Is it really fruitful to address specific points once a reader has exposed herself as a complete idiot? Technically, living without a home is the only prerequisite to calling oneself homeless, though I once was homeless also as a state of mind even when I did have a roof, beyond any idealization I might have entertained over the freedom of having nothing left to lose. I never claimed my situations of actual homelessness to be on equal footing with long-term homeless folks, and in fact compassionate sentiments toward those not homeless by choice are sprinkled throughout the book. Heaven knows how you managed to miss every last one of them.
But you’ll notice I kept reading. With the criticism I’ve noted above, I found myself wondering why I didn’t just quit the book. In the end, I had a real desire to see what happened to this wayward boy (for he remained a boy throughout this book), and MW’s writing was good enough to keep me hooked.
Thank you for sharing this with us.
You’re welcome (sigh). And thank you for the inflated four stars out of five. I needed that extra star for the one our next reviewer screwed me out of.
: The Autobiography of a Serial Killer but for the Grace of God
Author: Walker, Tommy
Review Date: FEBRUARY 18, 2009
Publisher:BookSurge (485 pp.)
Price (paperback): $20.99
Publication Date: April 5, 2002
ISBN (paperback): 978-1-58898-608-5
Walker unspools in detail the dark psychological results of excruciating inhibition and loneliness.
Being rejected is always hurtful, but sometimes it’s crushing. In Walker’s case, a childhood friend spurned him, maybe even playfully. He turned inward and his reluctance to socialize widened the chasm between him and his peers, making him increasingly odd. Young Walker fancies himself a bit of an outlaw, but in reality he begins to fixate on his mother’s love in an unwholesome way. An outlet arrives: masturbation (if “serial killer” never bears fruit, Walker gives serial masturbator a run for its money). He finds pornography “soothing,” though the vibrancy of his incestuous feelings remains disturbingly taboo. The author comes across as neither self-hating nor self-amused, but haunted. There is plenty to be repulsed by here—Walker running away from home when he’s old enough to leave, sad trips in which he sinks deep into decrepitude before calling home to be rescued and his sordid fantasies of the opposite sex—and the author gets flamboyantly raunchy about his masturbation. Yet the story is compellingly painful, as it focuses on a kid in pathetic straits. There is a steady pulse to the writing, despite its circling details, and Walker even inserts humor into his unlovely life, as when a porn-shop owner shoots him a look when he inquires about incest magazines—“It’s unusual for a merchant to give you eyes since they have to make their sale, but this guy did. This from a man who sold porn for a living.” If Walker is not a killer, his fury is real—a lightness enters him during an assault fantasy and a heaviness returns afterward, gnawing like a rat. He finds something nearing salvation through the written word and finally a woman.
A pungent, woebegone tale of emotionally crippling loneliness.
(Or, fuck this and fuck that.)
‘Monstrous’ Reviewed by my First International Reader
“Quite frankly the biggest mindfuck I have ever read, yet paradoxically therapeutic. A maelstrom of a journey through an emotional hellfire of ebonite isolation and self-hatred, yet ending with the joy of finding love, and oneself. Not to be missed.”
— Andy Cheek, England
And by my most quotable BookCrosser
“I had gotten into a routine of reading…Oprah book club selections, etc. Those books mentally made love to me. Yet, like a typical one night stand, the whole thing was forgotten within a week. This book fucked me. Then rudely shot its load in my face. I loved every minute of it.”
— Kelly Erde, USA
(as culled from every member of bookcrossing.com who has commented on my book)
“This is feeling vaguely like a deja vu experience. Well, not exactly. I wasn’t good enough for invisible friends or multiple personalities of any kind.”
“I think people are expecting a shocking book, with the ‘normal’ parts trimmed out, but I think that overall it’s the normal that IS shocking.”
“Here I am a month or months…(I can’t remember when I finished!) and it is STILL in my head. I keep bringing it up around my friends…they are dying to read it.”
“I remember telling MonstrousWalker that I was looking for something different. To say he delivered is an understatement! I had gotten into a routine of reading what is thought of as “women’s fiction”, Oprah book club selections, etc. Those books mentally made love to me. Yet, like a typical one night stand, the whole thing was forgotten within a week. This book fucked me. Then rudely shot its load in my face. I loved every minute of it.”
“This paragraph on page 13 really blew me away. I found myself going back to read it again and again. I haven’t had that feeling about a paragraph since I was 15 (now 31) and read Keroauc’s ‘the only ones for me are the mad ones’ for the first time.”
“It amazes me that you have remembered so much…The book says things that everybody thinks, but denies thinking them. Excellent book…I avidly recommend.”
“One of the most interesting things about reading this book was how often the old mirror radar went PING! VERY nicely written…this is the story of a man adrift in his mind and his efforts towards a kind of ‘perfection’.”
“a singularly affecting book…it has the potential to become a classic of its genre (which is probably somewhere in the same section as Hunter S. Thompson)
“Whilst reading I had such a tremendous empathy with you that believing us to be so alike, I just could not credit that you would become a serial killer at any point, since I myself have not. It therefore made me uncomfortable when our similarities apparently diverged and in the action of the book, you did something which I would not– how to explain that to myself? Am I also a serial killer but for the grace of god?”
“There were particular moments when I broke into manic giggles, only to be followed by tears (over my own painful adolescence). Quite a catharsis for me. ”
“Here’s this deep, murky story, and all of a sudden it turns into a fairy tale of sorts…I think that is one of the most deviant things about your book.”
“I agree with salinger007 that the book was extremely well-written. For me the flow and tempo…were perfect…I am glad that I read the book and would definitely recommend it to people wanting something different.”
“Remarkable story…Why?…because ‘Monstrous’ is not a story that can have been easy to tell, yet [it] is told eloquently, without prettifying or making excuses for its occasional crassness.”
“This book provided interesting reading material…A very Freudian look at human development.”
“The treks Walker takes…to different parts of the country remind me of McCandless in ‘Into the Wild’.”
“I could hand ‘Monstrous’ to someone and say, “Here, this guy is a good writer. The book is long and messed up and you might not like it, and you’re not going to like him at times, but it’s still worth reading if you can get through it.”
“A well-written book following the mind of a boy into becoming a man and how he tries to fit in society which he really doesn’t, at least not in a normal way. Or as we think normal. He was just the way he was.”
“A shocking book to be sure. The things talked about by Tommy and the things he describes doing. The writer has much talent…the ability to make me visualize exactly what was being described.”
“It took immense courage to not only write so openly and honestly about what you thought and did but also for you to see yourself so clearly and honestly. You spared yourself in nothing when looking at yourself. You were clear and objective. Not many people can put aside ego and the self-protectiveness we all seem to instinctively have against exposure, to see ourselves so clearly.”
“I felt a tremendous admiration for Tommy…a stunning and unique read.”
“wow interesting book though the man is a bit of a narcissist.”
“As a diary of a [boy’s] life, it is amazing.”
“It felt naughty peeking into your private diary and it certainly was interesting. You have a wonderful writing style.”
“…wasn’t at all what I was expecting but it’s pretty well written.”
“I think this is his ‘Monstrous’ side (duh!), the Hyde side of him, the crudest, most honest, animal instinctual, barbarian side, that’s bared in this book. But I believe that a person’s personality has more than one aspect, and while we’re not obviously seeing the good side of him, I believe we can find it between the lines.”
XLonelyGuy (my correspondence chess buddy)
“It strikes me that Tommy writes like he plays chess; patient, careful, systematic. He likes to ‘set his stall out’ over days, sometimes weeks before the stage is set for the pounce– which often comes from a completely different direction from the one you expected.”
“I was…blown away by the title. That someone was willing to describe themselves as a “serial killer but for the grace of God” was amazing. Or was I being too literal? Maybe we could all describe ourselves in that way.”
“i only got to page 30, i found it totally uninteresting and dull.”
“I thought it was terrible and written by an egotistical writer. I don’t believe he remembers half the things he said he did as a child.”
- The Spirit of Dennis Rader
- My Friend Dahmer
- Not Much to Say
- Only the Shadow Knows
- Jagged Breathing and All
- Talking Cows
- Colin Flaherty of ‘White Girl Bleed a Lot’
- What the Heck to Call This Thing, and
- I Can See Two Starbucks at the Same Time
- I Love Trolls
- I Ended Up Reading the Book Twice
- Coming Up With a Title– The MONSTROUS by WALKER Show