Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Psychopath's Reading List

Recently I read Maureen Orth's account of the murder spree committed in 1997 by Andrew Cunanan, the young San Diego man who fabricated sophisticated images of himself to succeed in the fast lane of gay society. To fuel this life, he trafficked in sex, drugs, money, and power—until he imploded. During quiet moments, he read a good deal, which helped him converse with the older gay men whose approval and money he sought. The reading habit continued when he was holed up in Miami Beach after killing Gianni Versace. Among the books found in his rented room were Kenneth Clark's The Romantic Rebellion (a study of Romantic versus classic art), John Updike's collection of essays on art, Just Looking, and a book about the painter Francis Bacon. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

This information comes from page 317 of the 1999 hardback edition of Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History. The book shows off the author's investigative skills, but the prose is often lurid and disorderly. The strength of the book is Cunanan himself, a riveting monster. Also interesting are the depictions of ludicrous incompetence by the police.

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