Friday, May 24, 2013

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

This powerful graphic novel about well-known serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is completely unique. The author was an acquaintance of Dahmer in high school. When the news broke of his horrific crimes, Backderf was haunted by his memories of Dahmer's strange behavior and mascot-like status among Backderf's friends. Over the years, he wrote up his memories in graphic form, self-publishing a brief early version several years ago. This complete version is polished, mesmerizing, and based on a lot of research. You meet the strange, alienated Dahmer who imitates his mother's effeminate interior decorator and pretends to have frequent seizures. You also meet Backderf and his friends, who are fascinated by Dahmer, but also realize that there is something truly strange about him. They offer Dahmer some semblance of friendship, but Dahmer never really breaks into their group because of his underlying strangeness. The story is believable, fascinating, and will be of high interest to teenagers who might just think about their own acquaintances and who might be lurking among them. Highly recommended for high school readers.

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