Friday, July 5, 2013

Robert Kolker

Robert Kolker's new book is Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery.

From his Q & A at True Crime Diary:

When did [Lost Girls] seem like a book to you?

I resisted thinking about that until the story came out. Then I looked at it, and it was a cover story. I write a lot about crime, but probably because of where I work, I’m encouraged to write about stories that have some sort of second issue running underneath the story itself. A murder story can also be about the hate crime law, or a wrongful conviction story is also about police interrogation tactics, and false confessions. This story from the start wasn’t just about the whodunit, but about the impact of the case on five different families, and how that offered a window into the lives of these women when they were still alive. I’m a huge fan of Adrian Nicole LeBlanc and Alex Kotlowitz, any kind of journalism that offers a window into a world that no one’s seen before, and that the media doesn’t write much about. Immediately I thought, well this could be a really self-contained book. I’d write about five families, in five parts of the country, five struggling area where the options are changing for young people. What propelled the narrative along is the same thing that propels “Titanic,” or “From Here to Eternity” --- you know how it’s going to end for all of them.

You really get across what it’s like for a certain struggling segment of the population, one that’s rarely portrayed in the media. I was reminded of the book Nickel and Dimed, and some of David Simon's work.

There’s obviously a gap between rich and poor in the country, but what was driven home for me while working on the book was the gap between the middle class and working class. Megan Waterman’s mother works at Domino’s, and Shannan Gilbert’s mother works at Walmart. Melissa Barthelemy’s mother has worked at the same nursing home for 25 years. So you have this unseen world, this...[read on]
Visit Robert Kolker's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue