A review by nytephoenyx
American Monsters, by Adam Jortner
This is my favourite non-fiction read of the year so far. It may not be the most important, but wow was it fascinating and Jortner pulled me right in. After listening to lectures, I found myself wandering off to find my husband and inform him of all the new and fascinating things I’d just learned. He, to his credit, proceeded to nod politely and pretend to be interested.
American Monsters analyses the evolution of fear in the Americas as is metaphorically encapsulated in the monsters it portrays and the level of sympathy these monsters invoke in the audience. It’s handily done, and I particularly appreciated Jortner’s honest discourse on the problematic nature of King Kong and Rod Sterling’s struggles in creating a show that allowed him, under the “decency” rules, to criticise the handling of the Emmett Till case (ultimately leading to the development of The Twilight Zone).
I heartily recommend this lecture series to anyone - it’s a wonderful combination of history, psychology, pop culture, and literary analysis. I learned so much and am hungry for more.
Moderate: Death and Murder
Minor: Child death