irst, I’ll say that I have no idea where this book came from. I was going through my read-stack and there it was, as if some literary hopeful planted it there (I really don’t think the Blogatorum has that sort of pull, but who knows). Maybe I got it out of one of those curb-side libraries. But if you gave it to me, thanks! I really enjoyed it.
So let’s get into why I enjoyed it. Dirty John is a collection of short pieces by Journalist Christopher Goffard, interviews involving “true stories of outlaws and outsiders”. And, as he says in his introduction, he does not focus on his interview but rather spooling what he’s learned into the narrative he creates. And it’s very effective. And here’s why: You find yourself in shoes other than your own.
Curious about what it’s like to be a lost teen riding trains aimlessly around the country? Or what it would be like for the family (and, specifically, the son) of a person on Death Row? Or a Syrian woman trying to fit into Swedish culture while desperately (and hopelessly) arrange for her family to join her? And (from the titular story), what it’s like when your mother decides to marry someone who is a destructive psychopathic lying con man?
All of the stories were rich in detail and insight. And they serve as a lesson to we suburban readers who have managed the tightrope over the pit of disaster – this is how many lives fail. There but for the grace and all that. In reading them, I can think of a number of times in my life where I could have met with my own disaster, a single punch or word from prison, a beating, death.
So Dirty John is a good collection of insights on how the druggie skateboarder, the freeway panhandler, the hotel worker got to where they are. Read it and weep.