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Author Topic: Columbine  (Read 111400 times)

Offline Nikki

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Re: Columbine
« Reply #45 on: June 15, 2009, 03:52:02 PM »

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?


The opening works for me.  It introduced Principal DeAngelis and his rapport with the students as a caring, realistic educator.  Parents and teachers have always been apprehensive around prom time -- drinking and driving, the dangers of sexual experimentation, as well as a recklessness that is often pervasive during these last coming-of-age activities in high school. DeAngelis uses the assembly to send a message to students, and it resonates because they know he really cares about them.  The atmosphere is happy and lighthearted, and the students are keyed up, but the reader is filled with dread, because we know what is going to happen. The parallel feelings of innocence and dread are nicely juxtaposed for the reader IMO.


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 Nikki

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Re: Columbine
« Reply #46 on: June 15, 2009, 04:13:54 PM »


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 nonfiction work?


Yes, I liked the  Author's Note  that no dialog was made up.  This always bothers me when writers try to 'get in the heads' of criminals, and put words in their mouths except in cases where the perpetrators leave journals and tapes as in the book.  I was also impressed  by the amount of research Cullen reviewed: police evidence, documents, video tapes, etc.., and I was confident from the beginning that all of it was authentic and rang true.

Cullen writes that he "covered the story as a journalist, beginning around noon on the day of the attack."  I wondered whether he prepared to cover it for a newspaper, or was he a freelance? Does he use a police scanner, or did someone call him? And when did he decide to write the book?

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 janjo

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Re: Columbine
« Reply #47 on: June 15, 2009, 04:17:26 PM »
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?

I did see this and as I read it became clear to me what Dave had done with the dedication.
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Offline Stilllearning

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Re: Columbine
« Reply #48 on: June 15, 2009, 05:33:40 PM »

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?


I really liked this way of introducing the story ~ it humanized the story right off the bat.  I knew I was going to read a story about how two teenagers terrorized their peers at school - and all that went with that, but this beginning gave me a sense of the familiar, of community. I liked it a lot.

Offline Stilllearning

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Re: Columbine
« Reply #49 on: June 15, 2009, 05:35:58 PM »
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?

I noticed it from the start, and have flipped back to the list a half a dozen times. I haven't finished this section yet, so I don't know this answer yet, but I was immediately interested in how Patrick offered hope.

Offline Stilllearning

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Re: Columbine
« Reply #50 on: June 15, 2009, 05:38:44 PM »
This might seem like a silly question - but I was wondering, several times in the first couple chapters, girls are referred to as "chicks" - is this choice of word because it might better put us in the frame of mind of the boys (Dylan and Eric) or is the choice of "chick" just Dave's choice of word?

Offline michaelflanagansf

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Re: Columbine
« Reply #51 on: June 15, 2009, 06:39:08 PM »
This might seem like a silly question - but I was wondering, several times in the first couple chapters, girls are referred to as "chicks" - is this choice of word because it might better put us in the frame of mind of the boys (Dylan and Eric) or is the choice of "chick" just Dave's choice of word?

I'm not sure - lets ask Dave to answer this when he checks in.
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Offline killersmom

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Re: Columbine
« Reply #52 on: June 15, 2009, 07:38:40 PM »
I am going to take my time tonight when it is quiet and read the questions thoroughly.

Question #5 did jump out at me, and I want to address it now.

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?  Do you believe that there would have been a different outcome if he hadn't been principal?

I think Frank DeAngelis' relationship with the kids helped get many of them through this horrific time. His connection with the kids was and is very special. My boys had a principal just like Mr. D. He did tell the kids he loved them all the time. They responded to this with very positive reactions.

I am not sure about the second point in this question. If the question is would Eric and Dylan still have done what they did, if Mr. D had not been principal, then I think the answer is yes. It would not have mattered who was principal, they would have done the same thing.

The fact that Mr. D was around was a positive factor for all the students. Plus, Mr. D was the one behind putting the video cameras in the cafeteria, so that allowed many questions to be answered by them being there.
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Offline Stilllearning

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Re: Columbine
« Reply #53 on: June 15, 2009, 09:44:22 PM »
Just some random thoughts:

I really felt for Nate - how he realized, or suspected early on that something wasn't right, then the dawning reality that Dylan was likely involved, and the call to his Father.

The idea that the local sheriff was in charge - when experts in the field, stood by waiting for direction - beyond frustrating. I know how territorial those situations can be, but my gosh. The whole time element - how long it took to get through the building, is really heart-breaking. So many officers there, yet so long to get to those inside - it's hard to get beyond that.

And the mention of doors being locked, and the SWAT team firing their guns to gain access to those rooms/closets and the students in hiding, thinking the gunmen were coming for them.... (I had to take a break there).

You could really feel what seemed to be Dylan's struggle - actually executing the plan seemed to have some struggle in it for him - tumultuous (yet he went along with it none the less), but Eric, I just can't fathom how he could do that so coldly. He was face to face with his classmates, people he knew, it wasn't murder at a distance (not that those are less horrific), it's just stunning that he could have so callously done that. ( I'm still not caught up, maybe Dylan ends up acting just as callously).

I never considered that 911 would be flooded with calls from worried parents - what a nightmare that must have been.

I really like the short chapters and the short, pointed, direct sentences/statements when describing the ambush. That style really worked - very powerful for this reader.

Offline Desecra

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Re: Columbine
« Reply #54 on: June 16, 2009, 12:24:32 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 was one of those, and it was really just the subject matter.   I mentioned earlier that I was reading it from a parent's perspective, and it's a powerful reminder that you're unable to protect your children.  It wasn't any particular part of the book that made me set it down.   

What brought me back was curiosity, I suppose.   It was such a terrible incident for the victims and their families, but it's reassuring that these kinds of incidents are relatively rare (whether shootings or bombings).     I'm much more worried about suicide and accidents. 
Unless, I say otherwise, I'm probably talking about the short story, not the movie. :)

Offline Desecra

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Re: Columbine
« Reply #55 on: June 16, 2009, 01:28:56 AM »
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?

It didn't work so well for me.   I found it very difficult to picture, and I think that's just a personal thing (the way my mind works).   I was trying to fit what I was reading to the pictures I remembered seeing of the school, and had to keep mentally twisting things around.  After reading, I went on the internet to see maps and pictures of the school and pupils, but I wished I had been looking at them alongside the book, as my mental pictures had been wrong. 
Unless, I say otherwise, I'm probably talking about the short story, not the movie. :)

Offline Desecra

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Re: Columbine
« Reply #56 on: June 16, 2009, 01:43:48 AM »
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?

I don't remember now.  One thing that kept coming to my mind while reading though, was how much "bigger" Columbine was than Dunblane (three years earlier) - it's the name everybody associates with a school shooting (although I know it wasn't intended to be a school shooting).     When I went to look for pictures of the school and the people in the book, there were lots of websites, including personal ones for the victims.      I didn't come across anything near that for Dunblane, on a quick search.   And yet there more children killed at Dunblane than Columbine.

Columbine maybe just captured the public imagination in a way that Dunblane didn't, and I'm not sure why.   Was it because the shooters were pupils themselves?   Because the pupils were teenagers rather than little children?  Because it was in the US?   Was it just because Columbine came right at the start of internet age, when internet access was becoming commonplace, whereas Dunblane was a couple of years earlier?
Unless, I say otherwise, I'm probably talking about the short story, not the movie. :)

Offline janjo

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Re: Columbine
« Reply #57 on: June 16, 2009, 04:50:06 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?  Do you believe that there would have been a different outcome if he hadn't been principal?

In some ways the fact that Mr DeAngelis was such a good principal makes the horrific outcome worse. He was everything one could hope for in a Headmaster, and yet despite that, this terrible shooting still occured.
Because, as Dave shows us, these two boys didn't live in poor circumstances, they didn't come from bad homes. and the didn't go to a bad school with uncaring staff. They wreaked such havoc because of their underlying mental health difficulties. Dylan could have been identified and treated, because there are many effective treatments for depression, but Eric?
There is no treatment for Psycopathy.
People like him could be anywhere. Smiling, pleasant, normal seeming, and yet ready to commit murder at a moments notice. It is vey chilling.
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Offline Desecra

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Re: Columbine
« Reply #58 on: June 16, 2009, 06:07:51 AM »
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?

Yes!  I was very surprised.    It seemed strange that he called a lawyer before he even really knew what was going on.   I don't know yet if this was because he was one of those people who acts rationally in a crisis, or if it was because he'd been waiting for something to happen with his son and the news just made sense.    So far, nothing about Dylan that his parents would know about has seemed particularly out of the ordinary.    Depression is common, and as a parent, I think you'd tend to worry about suicide rather than murder - but even if the depression was picked up on, it doesn't look like they were obvious signs of a potential suicide.

It did make me think of how much privacy "children" should be allowed.   If his parents had known more, maybe they could have done something.   But Dylan was an adult, with a job and a car, and at that age you wouldn't expect the parents to know too much about what's going on.
Unless, I say otherwise, I'm probably talking about the short story, not the movie. :)

Offline Nikki

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Re: Columbine
« Reply #59 on: June 16, 2009, 06:38:06 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 think anyone who is a parent would find the account of the killings intense -- one cannot help but empathize with parents who were waiting for word of their children -- the horror of finding out what was going on, but unable to get answers about whether their children were safe or not.  However, I was mesmerized by the account of how the shooters went about their business, showing no mercy for kids they had been in school with day after day.  I didn't stop reading for a minute and continued on even rereading some passages horrible as they were. There was something surreal about the whole affair which captured me as a reader and as a parent, and I couldn't stop reading.

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!