THE LIFE, WORK AND CHRONICLES OF JEFF KOYEN: REFORMED ITINERANT, OCCASIONAL WRITER AND FRIEND TO ALMOST ALL DOGS

Natural Born Celebrities: Serial Killers in American Culture
By David Schmid
Like too many academics, David Schmid employs deconstruction to yield understanding. In this attempt to explain society's fascination with serial killers, the SUNY English professor starts with Jack the Ripper and drags us headlong into post-9/11 America where "Serial Killers Are Us."
Schmid's not wrong, but he's never all that insightful. He overanalyzes Silence of the Lambs and Natural Born Killers; he over-explains the FBI's elevation of "serial killer" to the archetypal status of "communist" and "gangster"; and he veers way off topic with a chapter about homosexuality -- a thoroughly non-illuminative pandering to the university crowd.
Had he instead interviewed those who buy John Wayne Gacy paintings, or had he researched the mid-90s zine craze where (for right or wrong) these postmodern Shivas were first venerated, this could have been a landmark work of cultural analysis. Instead, he offers a collection of lectures appropriate for sophomore modern-lit students.