Double review: Poetry edition

Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson

Paperback

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Published on 27 November 2018

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

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Published on 4 November 2014

For some unknown reason, I never really read poetry, even though I’ve been a fan of Andrea Gibson’s work for years. One day it dawned on me that I did not actually own any of their books so I went onto Amazon and fixed that problem immediately. As I was ordering Lord of the Butterflies, Milk and Honey popped up as a suggested read and since I am easily influenced and needed to get my basket to £20 to qualify for free delivery, I thought go on then.

This was definitely money well spent because both of these books are incredible. If you are feeling a bit iffy about poetry, rest assured: this is modern poetry and it does not conform to the rigidness and vagueness of the kind of poetry that you may have been asked to read for school. This reads very easily, so easily that it takes the reader in instantly.

Andrea’s poetry covers topics such as depression and anxiety, politics, gender issues and so on. They question the state of affairs in America, all the while celebrating LGBTQ+ people.

Rupi’s poetry is similar in that it also covers serious topics: mainly abuse and trauma, but also love and healing. Rupi’s words cut deep, they are crude and will shake you to your core. You will feel the hurt and horror as if you were there. However the end of the book is more light-hearted as it focuses on forgiveness, healing and allowing oneself to be happy. Milk and Honey is truly inspiring in that it shows that no matter how much other people hurt and abuse you, there is always a silver lining. Humans are strong beings that can be reborn from the ashes, and if you just give yourself a little love and forgiveness, you can rebuild yourself and experience joy.

Andrea’s book also has this same message of hope, though it comes in the form of altruism. There is a certain poem in which Andrea relates one of their suicide attempts and tells how on their way to end their life they stumbled upon someone else about to take their own life and immediately felt that they had to stop them. In a powerful quote, they say:

Never in my life did I want more

to keep my blood blue, did I want more to live

than when I looked up and saw myself in someone else

trying to become the sky. I didn’t even know him

but I know it would have killed me to watch him die.

Both of these books promote self-love and forgiveness. They incite us to give ourselves some slack because yes, life is hard, so we need compassion towards ourselves and towards others. If we could all love a little more, the world would be an easier place to live in.

I am extremely lucky to have gotten tickets to Andrea Gibson’s show in Cardiff in May and I cannot wait for it! After years of following their work, I cannot believe I will finally get to see them perform live!

Review #33: Talking with Serial Killers

Talking with Serial Killers: A chilling study of the world’s most evil people by Christopher Berry-Dee

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Published on 20 September 2018 (First published in 2003)

I bought this book myself for my own personal leisure.

Christopher Berry-Dee is the man who talks to serial killers. A world-renowned investigative criminologist, he has gained the trust of murderers across the world, entered their high security prisons, and discussed in detail their shocking crimes.

The killers’ pursuit of horror and violence is described through the unique audiotape and videotape interviews which Berry-Dee conducted, deep inside the bowels of some of the world’s toughest prisons.

Christopher Berry-Dee has collated these interviews into this astounding, disturbing book, which, since its first publication, has gone on to become a True Crime classic. Not only does he describe his meetings with some of the world’s most evil men and women, he also reproduces, verbatim, their very words as they describe their crimes, allowing the reader a glimpse into the inner workings of the people who have committed the worst crime possible- to mercilessly take the life of another human being.

In these nine chapters, each focusing on a different serial killer, Christopher Berry-Dee comes back on years of correspondence and research into some of America’s most prolific murderers. This book is certainly not for the faint-hearted as it goes into very gruesome details pretty much from the onset.

I have actually never read a book about serial killers before though I have always had an interest in the subject and I do watch a lot of true crime documentaries, so when I stumbled upon this book I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to join my passion for reading with my interest in true crime.

However, I would say that I was slightly disappointed by this book, mainly because I assumed from the title that the serial killers would be the ones telling their stories and that we would get insight into their minds. But instead, Christopher Berry-Dee is exposing his own research and knowledge of the different cases. No matter how extensive his knowledge is, it did feel like the focus was on the author and his research work rather than on the killers, as the title suggests, so that was misleading. I was expecting extracts from letters or transcriptions of taped interviews but the book contains very little of that.

Another negative point was the number of typos and spelling mistakes. For a professionally published book, the level of proofreading and editing was simply shocking and it did hinder my reading quite a bit.

On a positive note however, I did learn a lot about cases that I had previously never heard of, as well as the real story behind the Amityville murders. I knew that the movie was based on a true story but I never actually looked into it before so it was really interesting to learn about the true events that inspired the film.

The author’s research into these crimes also sheds doubt on the culpability of some of these killers. For example, in the case of Douglas Clark and Carol Bundy: in common knowledge, Clark was the mastermind behind the killings and Bundy a mere accessory; but the story that Christopher Berry-Dee recounts would have us think that it was rather the other way around with Bundy being the main perpetrator and Clark possibly being innocent of most of the murders he was charged with.

While slightly disappointing in some regards, I still found that this book contained a lot of interesting information and, if anything, it’s opened a whole new genre of literature for me and I will be sure to buy more books on this horrifying, yet fascinating, subject.