When Killers Fancy Storytelling,
It’s Our Vanity That Gets Exposed
To the chronically gloomy and the pathological self defeatist, few things seem more pointless than the wish to be remembered. To transcend this mortal coil, or at least outlast your lifetime-guaranteed Zippo, holds no court down where wilted, anxious-to-be-forgotten souls dwell.
Yet, to leave a legacy is not a monopoly of the naked ape. From time immemorial, tiny male spiders beat gruesome competition, only to be swallowed by giant mates. Far from suicidal, they’s only seizing the chance to leapfrogging a generation and add their genes to the future.
A similar urge may have driven Italian Giuseppe Grassonelli, in prison for Mafia-related crimes, and Canadian Robert Pickton, a convicted serial killer, to write their stories. When one won a literary prize and the other appeared on Amazon, people got shocked, shocked.
Neither role models nor bottom feeders, they still stand above child-abusing priests, or pension-savings raiders, on some vain moralistic stepladder. Yet while padres and Wall Street psychopaths often carry jail-free cards, Grassonelli and Pickton are both convicted lifers.
They’re all depraved, that’s for sure. But like anyone, it’s their right to tell their story. Again, no prize or blockbuster sale will cleanse the books’ blood stains or redeem the authors before their victims’ grief. But hey, Hollywood makes a killing just trading on such stories.
All this canned outrage about what’s basically someone trying to control their own narrative sounds utterly phony. While we know the score about these two cons, it’s a wild guess to imagine what those feigning rectitude hide in their own closets. But let’s meet our duo.
TALES OF THE MALAVITA
Almost two years ago, when Malerba won the Sciascia Racalmare prize, there was furor in Italy over this confessed killer’s boldly fictionalized account about the Cosa Nostra and its ruthless grip over Sicily, between the 1980s and 1990s. And lots of anger from relatives of the dead too.
What irked them, more than Grassonelli’s preposterous claim to redemption, was the prize itself, named after a famous writer and critic of Italian organized crime, Leonardo Sciascia. It was partially due to his efforts that public opinion turned negative toward the Mafiosi.
Many a Mafia tale has been told, but this was written by an insider’s own blood-dripping hands. Who’s always eager to add that he didn’t break the Omèrta, the feared code of silence. Since he’s still alive, he probably didn’t. In any case, there’s only time in his hands now, since he’s going nowhere for a long long time.
WORDS OF A RAVENOUS PIG
Last January, Robert Pickton, in His Own Words, written by one Michael Chilldress, appeared briefly on Amazon’s book list, before being withdrawn under request of its self-publishing service (more)
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