David McConnell will be reading from his new book, American Honor Killings: Desire and Rage Among Men. He will be joined in conversation by Zachary Pace and Lonely Christopher.
In American Honor Killings, straight and gay guys cross paths, and the result is murder. But what really happened? What role did hatred play? What about bullying and abuse? What were the men involved really like, and what was going on between them when the murder occurred? American Honor Killings explores the truth behind squeamish reporting and uninformed political rants of the far right or fringe left. David McConnell, a New York-based novelist, researched cases from small-town Alabama to San Quentin’s death row. The book recounts some of the most notorious crimes of our era.
Beginning in 1999 and lasting until last year’s conviction of a youth in Queens, New York, the book shows how some murderers think they’re cleaning up society. Surprisingly, other killings feel almost preordained, not a matter of the victim’s personality or actions so much as a twisted display of a young man’s will to compete or dominate. We want to think these stories involve simple sexual conflict, either the killer’s internal struggle over his own identity or a fatally miscalculated proposition. They’re almost never that simple.
Together, the cases form a secret American history of rage and desire. McConnell cuts through cant and political special pleading to turn these cases into enduring literature. In each story, victims, murderers, friends, and relatives come breathtakingly alive. The result is more soulful, more sensitive, more artful than the sort of “true crime” writing the book was modeled on. A wealth of new detail has been woven into old cases, while new cases are plumbed for the first time. The resulting stories play out exactly as they happened, an inexorable sequence of events—grisly, touching, disturbing, sometimes even with moments of levity.
DAVID McCONNELL is the author of the acclaimed novels The Silver Hearted (a finalist for Lambda and Ferro-Grumley awards) and Firebrat. His short fiction and journalism have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, including the Literary Review (UK), Granta, and Prospect magazine (UK). He is the former cochair of the Lambda Literary Foundation, and lives in New York City.
ZACHARY PACE works at Grove/Atlantic and lives in Brooklyn.
LONELY CHRISTOPHER is the author of the short story collection The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse. He wrote and directed the forthcoming film MOM and lives in Brooklyn.