American Honor Killings: Desire and Rage Among Men (Paperback)

American Honor Killings: Desire and Rage Among Men By David McConnell Cover Image

American Honor Killings: Desire and Rage Among Men (Paperback)


An exposé of an America no one is comfortable talking about: the volatile ground where male violence and sexuality overlap.

—Awarded the 2014 Stonewall Book Award-Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award

American Honor Killings is a strong addition to any criminology or true crime collection with a side focus on gay issues, very much recommended.”—Midwest Book Review

“In the vein of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, McConnell spent years corresponding with murderers, visiting them in prison, and eventually learning that these killers may not actually hate gay men at all.” —Out Magazine

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. His latest book is American Honor Killings: Desire and Rage Among Men.

Product Details ISBN: 9781617751325
ISBN-10: 1617751324
Publisher: Akashic Books, Ltd.
Publication Date: March 5th, 2013
Pages: 256
Language: English
Utilizing an empathetic narrative nonfiction approach, novelist McConnell, co-chair of the Lambda Literary Foundation, casts a humanizing eye upon monstrous deeds . . . A journalistic tour de force made all the more impressive by jailhouse interviews . . . McConnell’s unquestionable skill as a writer, which gives both literary heft and immediacy to the narratives.
— Publishers Weekly

McConnell convincingly shows how fluid terms like ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ can actually be . . . The author’s case studies reflect an intensive investigation into the economic and cultural backgrounds of a wide variety of extremist cultures, research that involved interviews with law enforcement officials, families of victims and the convicted criminals themselves. A shocking look at the subculture of violent crime, not for the fainthearted.
— Kirkus Reviews

A masterpiece of reportage . . . Homophobia is not accepted as a mitigating circumstance in murder, but there is no doubt that men are still murdered for being gay. From Jon Schmitz (‘The Jenny Jones Killer’) to John Katehis (the teenage hustler who murdered radio personality George Weber), novelist McConnell . . . has compiled a number of these cases and looks into the culture of masculinity for clues to the dynamics behind these killings . . . with no clear answers, but some very intriguing questions, these vignettes of masculine pride and rage will appeal to those interested in gender politics and gay studies as well as true crime fans.
— Library Journal

A dark and disturbing portrait of the hate crime murderers of gay men as men who are also gay. . . . The glimpse into small town America that American Honor Killings presents is a strong rationale for gay positive role models, including ally groups and self-esteem activities in the educational system—and the sooner the better.

— Huffington Post

As this country again focuses on its endemic violence, David McConnell’s book couldn’t have arrived at a more apt time. By delving deep into the sexual brutality typically explained away with micro-waved Freudianism, he’s given us a work that is searing, personal and yet with a clarity that adds to the national conversation . . . It’s this truth telling, the sifting of sad ashes, that sets this book far above typical genre fare. Reading American Honor Killings is like driving by a forest fire, one vast yet still secretive—a fire that’s been burning for a long time.

— Lambda Literary