The Ultimate Brokeback Forum

Author Topic: Columbine  (Read 106940 times)

Offline Nikki

  • Ephemera
  • Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 6842
  • Never enough time, never enough
Re: Columbine
« Reply #30 on: June 09, 2009, 04:41:46 PM »
It's been a crazy past couple of days so I haven't read as much as I'd like.  I like to be able to read big chunks of a book at a time.  I have read the first eight chapters and the book is riveting.  I plan to hunker down tonight and read a lot of it.

No one has asked this so I will--actually, I asked Michael and he told me Dave said to ask the question in the thread, so here goes:  

Dear Dave,

How did you come to the decision not to use any photographs in the book?  Of course I wasn't wanting to see pictures of carnage and the aftermath, but part of me I admit am curious as to what the people in the story look(ed) like.  Was it out of sympathy to the families of the victims, and the victims themselves (including, in a lopsided way, Harris and Klebold)?  Part of me is glad there are no pictures.  I remember how looking at pix of Manson and his "family" and the murdered people in HELTER SKELTER gave me the shudders.   I respect your decision.  Just wondered if you are being asked this question of why no pix by any other interviewers, fans, etc.

Mark  

I wondered the same thing -- glad you asked, Mark.  I've seen pics of Klebold and Harris in the paper and magazines when it happened, although I would like to see photos of DeAngelis and Dave Sanders.

----------------------------------------------------------

As an aside, did anyone notice the cover?  It's so bleak and desolate, perfectly fits the description Dave gives of the school:  "With a beige concrete exterior and few windows, the school looks like a factory from most angles."

The shirts hanging on a nail shudder slightly in the draft.

If he does not force his attention on it, it might stoke the day, rewarm that old, cold time on the mountain when they owned the world and nothing seemed wrong.

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive
But to be young was very heaven!

Offline Sandy

  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 3133
Re: Columbine
« Reply #31 on: June 12, 2009, 12:39:13 PM »
A map of the school (and the town) would have been nice. Second edition?

Offline michaelflanagansf

  • Forum Librarian and buckle bunny
  • Team Cullen
  • Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 25020
Re: Columbine
« Reply #32 on: June 12, 2009, 12:45:38 PM »
I'm pretty sure Dave's holding off till Monday for answers of these questions - but they're all good ones!  [And Sandy maps!  I love maps.  That was one of the things I liked about 'Under the Banner of Heaven' - good maps!]
I do my thing, & you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other - it is beautiful. If not it can't be helped.

Fritz Perls - A Gestalt Prayer

Offline KittyHawk

  • Senior Advisor
  • Obsessed
  • ******
  • Posts: 3224
Re: Columbine
« Reply #33 on: June 14, 2009, 08:45:11 PM »
Help needed from Columbine readers:

I want to ask you to please keep an eye out for typos and other mistakes as you read and discuss the book. I'd like to get all those little aggravating mistakes cleaned up before the paperback comes out next year. Even if it's just a tiny mistake I want to know about it. Please PM me with any that catch your eye.

We want the next edition to be perfect - or at least closer to perfect!

Thanks a bunch. I hope you enjoy the discussion here.

- Lydia

Offline michaelflanagansf

  • Forum Librarian and buckle bunny
  • Team Cullen
  • Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 25020
Re: Columbine
« Reply #34 on: June 14, 2009, 09:13:13 PM »
Thanks a bunch. I hope you enjoy the discussion here.

- Lydia

You know you're invited too, right?
I do my thing, & you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other - it is beautiful. If not it can't be helped.

Fritz Perls - A Gestalt Prayer

Offline michaelflanagansf

  • Forum Librarian and buckle bunny
  • Team Cullen
  • Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 25020
Re: Columbine
« Reply #35 on: June 15, 2009, 01:28:09 AM »
Welcome to the discussion for 'Columbine' by Dave Cullen.  These are the questions for the first section of the book - through the end of 'Female Down.'  For those of you who are new to our book club, you can answer any or all of the questions I pose - or if you feel I haven't covered a particular topic in this section of the book that you would like to address, please feel free to ask your own questions.  The point of the discussion is not to be exhaustive or academic - we're doing this to discuss an interesting book.  Remember - you're not in school and there will be no final exam.  Now lets get started:

1.)  'Columbine' begins with an assembly at the High School on the Friday before the attack.  Considering there are several perspectives that he could have taken (beginning with the attacks or starting with events that triggered the attacks) how does this opening work for you - does it draw you into the atmosphere of the school well?

2.)  The dedication is to the thirteen people killed and to Patrick Ireland.  Did you notice this?  Did you find yourself checking (as I did) to see if you were reading about someone who died in the attacks as you went through the book?  How did this affect your reading?

3.)  There are two epigraphs in the book - one from Hemingway and one from Dostoyevsky.  What do you think Dave was trying to say by including these?

4.)  Did the Author's Note on the sources give you information that was useful in your reading of the book?  For example - did it help to know that no dialog was made up in the book?  Do you feel that notes of this sort give you more confidence in reading a non-fiction work?

5.)  We begin the book in the assembly on the weekend before the attack.  What strikes you about Frank DeAngelis' (Mr. D) relationship with the kids at Columbine?  Do you believe that there would have been a different outcome if he hadn't been principal?

6.)  We read about Eric and Dylan's preparations for the prom, their work at the pizza shop and their nicknames 'Reb' and 'VoDKa.'  Did it strike you how normal they seemed?  Did they seem like typical teens to you?  Does this make them more frightening and/or make their actions harder to understand?

7.)  Beginning with a section on page 10 ('Rebel Hill slopes gradually....') and at the beginning of the chapter 'Springtime' we get descriptions of the school setting and the student body.  Did you feel that this gave you an adequate picture of the school environment?  Does it seem similar to secondary schools that you have known?  If yes, does this make the book more difficult for you to read?

8.)  In 'Springtime' we read of the rise of the 'School Shooter.'  Do you remember when you first became aware of this phenomenon?  What were your thoughts about this before you read the book?

9.)  In 'Two Columbines' we begin to be introduced to people who were attacked and their families (Dave Sanders, Linda Sanders, Patrick Ireland and Cassie Bernall).  How was it to be introduced to these people?  Several people mentioned having to put the book down while reading.  Was this one of those points for you?

10.)  In 'Maximum Human Density' Dave lays out how Eric and Dylan's plans were affected by Timothy McVeigh and the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.  Were you aware of this connection?  Before reading this book did you know about the bombs that were in the High School?  Should this fact have been given greater prominence by the press after the attack?  Why or why not?

11.)  In 'Judgment' and 'Female Down' we are given a rundown of the events on April 20th, the day of the attack on Columbine High School.  Were there any things that stood out particularly about they events as they unfold?  Do you think that if Deputy Gardiner had been in the lunch room that things would have turned out differently?  Were you surprised at the demeanor of Eric and Dylan?  What was your opinion of the reactions of the adults in charge in the school - would you have done anything differently?

12.)  Did you know about the problems with cellphones overwhelming the operators?  Do you think this would be worse now?  How do you think this affected the reporting?  Did the '24 hour news cycle' come into play here - that is, were the news agencies running with any information they could get - including cellphone calls from inside the school?  Should the news shows have carried live telephone calls from the students?  Why or why not?  Do you think that this sort of coverage should depend on the news item being covered (i.e., if it does not put people in danger, should these sources be used)?

13.)  By the time the networks went live (at noon) there were hundreds of uniformed responders present.  Given the size of the force, what do you think of the response?  What do you feel they could have done differently?

14.)  We begin reading of the parents responses in '1 Bleeding to Death.'  Were you able to put yourself in their place?  Are there any particular responses that stood out to you?

15.)  What was your opinion of Sheriff John Stone at the beginning of the book?  Did your opinion change as you read on?

16.)  We read of the reactions of Robyn Anderson and Nate Dykeman after the attack started.  What did you think of their reactions?  Should they have given the police information?  Or were they just as scared and shocked as everyone else?

17.)  What did you think of the reaction of the Klebolds?  Were you surprised that Tom suspected his son right away?  Does it seem particularly odd that he reacted this way, given the response of the Harrises?

18.)  In 'First Assumption' we get to meet Dwayne Fuselier.  What do you think of his response to the attack as opposed to the other law enforcement officers?  Were you impressed by his competence right off?  Do you think that (because we have been introduced to others such as Sheriff Stone) we are more inclined to view him favorably in contrast?

19.)  What is the 'First Assumption'?  Is it that there was a terrorist attack?  That there were hostages?  Or that it was a large conspiracy?  Or does this refer to the assumptions of the news media?  In retrospect do these assumptions make sense (i.e., can you understand why there was this confusion)?

20.)  What is your opinion of the news media's questions such as 'were they outcasts' - and they use of the word 'they' to indicate some sort of groupthink?  Why do you think that the notion of the 'Trenchcoat Mafia' was seized on so readily?  Why do you think these early notions were not corrected as it became clear they were wrong?  Do you think that mistakes of this sort lead to the 'school shooter profile'?  To what degree does looking for easy explanations for complex problems come into play to explain these sorts of notions?

21.)  In 'The Boy In The Window' we are told the story of Patrick Ireland's survival.  What struck you most about the events involved in his rescue?  Were you surprised at the level of detail we were presented about this event?

22.)  Miscommunication seems to have begun as soon as the first press conference was held - that there were three shooters, that 25 people were dead and errors about the motives.  What was the impact of these erroneous assumptions?  Do you feel that they should not have had the press conference - or if it was held, what should have been done to improve on it?

23.)  As opposed to Robyn and Nate, Chris Morris called police right away.  Given what happened to him, do you think he did the right thing?  Do you think he accidentally made himself the center of the investigation, as Eric and Dylan were dead?

24.)  Sue Klebold said that she felt as if they had been hit by a hurricane - and a lawyer told her that people were going to hate her.  How do you feel towards her at this point in the book?  Do you empathize with her - or do you have conflicted feelings?

25.)  In 'Last Bus' and 'Vacuuming' we share the anguish of Brian Rorhbough, Misty Bernall and Linda Sanders.  What are your thoughts concerning their reactions to the deaths of their loved ones?  Did any particular reactions surprise you - or resonate with you?  Were you able to put yourself in their place?

That's it for my questions!  Again, if you feel I have missed something in this first section (up to page 98) please feel free to ask your own questions.  I look forward to your responses.
I do my thing, & you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other - it is beautiful. If not it can't be helped.

Fritz Perls - A Gestalt Prayer

Offline gwyllion

  • Backpacker
  • Global Moderator
  • Obsessed
  • ******
  • Posts: 32788
  • 00QAD trash
    • AO3
Re: Columbine
« Reply #36 on: June 15, 2009, 07:06:37 AM »
OK, I'll give one of your many questions a try!

25.)  In 'Last Bus' and 'Vacuuming' we share the anguish of Brian Rorhbough, Misty Bernall and Linda Sanders.  What are your thoughts concerning their reactions to the deaths of their loved ones?  Did any particular reactions surprise you - or resonate with you?  Were you able to put yourself in their place?

I can't imagine how the parents felt, thinking that there would be a last bus.  The amount of miscommunication that has been uncovered in the book is disturbing and terrifying to this parent of a teenager.  I felt so sad for the parents who held out hope that their kids (or husband, in one case) would simply be still hiding in the school. 

The reactions of the Evangelical parents who were spiritually bonded together at the end of the day bothered me.  This is definitely not the way I would react.  Perhaps it has something to do with their religion?  Evangelical?  I don't know what Evangelical is... 
The only easy day was yesterday.

Offline KittyHawk

  • Senior Advisor
  • Obsessed
  • ******
  • Posts: 3224
Re: Columbine
« Reply #37 on: June 15, 2009, 08:05:30 AM »
Thanks a bunch. I hope you enjoy the discussion here.

- Lydia

You know you're invited too, right?

I do, Michael. Thanks. I'll be here.


Offline KittyHawk

  • Senior Advisor
  • Obsessed
  • ******
  • Posts: 3224
Re: Columbine
« Reply #38 on: June 15, 2009, 08:23:29 AM »
Quote
5.)  We begin the book in the assembly on the weekend before the attack.  What strikes you about Frank DeAngelis' (Mr. D) relationship with the kids at Columbine? 

I was a high school math teacher for ten years. Remembering the principals at my school, I can not picture any them telling one kid, much less an assembly of kids, that he loved them. They always tried to be authoritative so they would be respected. It didn't work. The kids would have erupted in hoots and laughter and hisses and boos. The kids at Columbine were and are very lucky to Have Mr. D as their principal. I would have liked to have worked for someone like him.

Offline michaelflanagansf

  • Forum Librarian and buckle bunny
  • Team Cullen
  • Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 25020
Re: Columbine
« Reply #39 on: June 15, 2009, 10:24:10 AM »
The reactions of the Evangelical parents who were spiritually bonded together at the end of the day bothered me.  This is definitely not the way I would react.  Perhaps it has something to do with their religion?  Evangelical?  I don't know what Evangelical is... 

Hi Donna!  Welcome - here's the 'wiki' on Evangelicalism:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelicalism

It certainly is an interesting reaction - you could compare it to the reaction of the Amish after the shooting at West Nickel Mines School:

http://yourawesometeacher.wordpress.com/2009/03/15/the-west-nickel-mines-school-tragedy-one-year-later/
I do my thing, & you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other - it is beautiful. If not it can't be helped.

Fritz Perls - A Gestalt Prayer

Offline michaelflanagansf

  • Forum Librarian and buckle bunny
  • Team Cullen
  • Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 25020
Re: Columbine
« Reply #40 on: June 15, 2009, 10:34:50 AM »
Actually, there's one additional question that is implied in a few of my other questions that I'd like you to consider - some of you have commented on having to set the book down for a bit because it got too intense.  Would you be willing to give us a little more information about that?  What was it in particular that struck you as difficult to read about?  And what brought you back to the book?

If you want to work that into the questions I asked, feel free - if you want to answer it separately, I'd be interested in that too.

Thanks!
I do my thing, & you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other - it is beautiful. If not it can't be helped.

Fritz Perls - A Gestalt Prayer

Online dejavu

  • may the snowy egret live
  • Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 88405
Re: Columbine
« Reply #41 on: June 15, 2009, 11:34:44 AM »
Strange, but until this moment, I hadn't given a single thought to photos. Not once during my reading did I wonder what Eric or Dylan really looked like or any of the other people. Dave did such an incredible job of describing those boys and especially Dave Sanders, as well as certain places like the library and the cafeteria, that I didn't feel any need to see pictures. That's very impressive, because I usually expect a book about real events to have at least a few images.

Hmmmm.  Just catching up here while I'm in Colorado.

My mom saved the newspapers of April 20 for me, when there was coverage of the 10th anniversary, and I saw pictures of Eric and Dylan, and maybe some of the victims.  Eric and Dylan looked fairly normal.  In a way, seeing them served my curiosity, but since there was nothing too unusual about them, I don't think there was anything lost by leaving the pictures out of the book.


Not to mention possible questions of causing offense by intruding on family privacy, or "glorifying the dillers."

P.S.  I mean killes, but this computer is terrible and won't display the lines in the bottom of long posts, so I'll quit until I get home.



Also, good set of questions, Michael.  I'll try printing them and taking them with me to think about unti I get home.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2009, 11:47:26 AM by dejavu »
Jack's from Texas.
Texans don't drink coffee?

Online dejavu

  • may the snowy egret live
  • Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 88405
Re: Columbine
« Reply #42 on: June 15, 2009, 11:35:50 AM »
A map of the school (and the town) would have been nice. Second edition?

Agree.
Jack's from Texas.
Texans don't drink coffee?

Offline Sandy

  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 3133
Re: Columbine
« Reply #43 on: June 15, 2009, 12:21:08 PM »
~snip~ome of you have commented on having to set the book down for a bit because it got too intense.  Would you be willing to give us a little more information about that?  What was it in particular that struck you as difficult to read about?  And what brought you back to the book?
~snip~

Thanks!

Part of what made me put down the book from time to time was, in part, the intensity of the content as it was reflected in the intensity of the writing. At least two things contributed to that intensity. First, much of the first part of the book is written in a way to provide an "eye-witness" account, one where we are not aware of the narrator as a separate personality/entity. So in my reading, it came come off as the written equivalent of a camera being continually focused on a string of events, without the relief of hearing the narrator's voice, getting a cut away, or having the camera turned off. The apparent impersonality of the reporting made it appear harrowing. And, paradoxically, this may be what is at the bottom of the negative review in the NYT which claimed that Dave was writing as if he "owned" the story. The "voice" of the story coincides with the "voice" of the narrator. I know Dave made a personal choice to withdraw from the narration for the sake of objectivity, but for my part I would like to have heard his distinctive voice more.

Second is a tad technical. The length of successive sentences seemed to me to be about the same, particularly in the early part of the book. I wanted more contrast so there would be a rhythm of longer and shorter sentences. That rhythm could be used to advance or retard the flow of the narrative, to focus it on facts or to divert it to commentary or background. Some successive sentences could have been joined together. Some clauses, particularly in sentences with conclusions, could have been broken off to stand on their own. This kind of writing is not unusual for web-based publications, and that is surely where some of the content comes from. I guess I was looking for the written equivalent of some breathing room in what was a breathless narration.

I came back to the story, of course, because I wanted to see how it all fit together.

Offline janjo

  • Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 11113
Re: Columbine
« Reply #44 on: June 15, 2009, 03:14:07 PM »
I had to put the book down from time to time because the facts it related, and the clear eyed way the story was told, were utterly shocking. From a UK point of view the facts are not widely known, even without the media obfuscation that obviously happened in the USA.
I knew two boys had run amok with guns, and I had heard of the "Trench Coat Mafia" a loose association of "Goths" who were reputed, in the newspapers to be gay.
Most of this turns out to have been completely untrue.
I wasn't really aware of the boys extensive plans to bomb the school, or that the propane bombs had been made and delivered to the crowded "Lunch Area." My imagination was working overtime at the thought of just how many students and teachers would have been killed if those bombs had not failed to go off.
Although I didn't know what Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold looked like, and as has been mentioned, the book had no photographs, I did find them on "Google" images, and found two pleasant looking, ordinary students. That two teenage students could make such evil and destructive plans and then even attempt to carry them out, with extensive loss of life, in the most brutal way, is utterly shocking, and caused me on several occasions to have to take a short break from the book.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2009, 04:01:23 PM by janjo »
Brokeback short stories at storybyjanjo.livejournal.com

"Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?"
Ballad in plain D: Bob Dylan