Monday, January 21, 2013

October Mourning

October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard
Today’s Non-Fiction post is on “October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard” by Lesléa Newman. It is 112 pages long including notes, explanation of poetic forms, and resources at the end of the volume. The cover is a scene from the area where Shepard was beaten; it is in tired colors of tan, white and blue. There is a fence stretching across it and going to the back of the book. This book can be read by anyone over the age of about sixteen. There is language, talk of the violence that killed Shepard, sex, and other adult themes. So parents read this with your young adults and talk with them about it. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- On the night of October 6, 1998, a gay twenty-one-year-old college student named Matthew Shepard was lured from a Wyoming bar by two young men, savagely beaten, tied to a remote fence, and left to die. Gay Awareness Week was beginning at the University of Wyoming, and the keynote speaker was Lesléa Newman, discussing her book Heather Has Two Mommies. Shaken, the author addressed the large audience that gathered, but she remained haunted by Matthew’s murder. October Mourning, a novel in verse, is her deeply felt response to the events of that tragic day. Using her poetic imagination, the author creates fictitious monologues from various points of view, including the fence Matthew was tied to, the stars that watched over him, the deer that kept him company, and Matthew himself. More than a decade later, this stunning cycle of sixty-eight poems serves as an illumination for readers too young to remember, and as a powerful, enduring tribute to Matthew Shepard’s life.

Review- I admit that I was jaded coming in to reading this. The author’s information at the back was all about what awards she has won, what books she has written, and at the bottom it says she works closely with the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Yes I read author’s bios if I do not know the author. I thought that she was just using a horrible tragedy to make more renown for herself. I do not think that now. Newman was going to speak to Shepard’s group the day before he was attacked. She walked into a storm of grief and fear. I cried while reading this. I remember when this attack happened. The way that Newman helps the reader connect with the fear, pain, grief, and loss of Matthew is beautiful. The only thing I would change would be the author’s bio because it feels that Newman is ringing her own bell. I understand that is something that all authors (no matter what of) have to do but I, personally, do not think that this book is the place to do it. Read this book and think about your gay friends, co-workers, or family. I saw my close gay friends when Newman talked about how Matthew was strung up to die alone. It broke my heart. There is no resolution in this book but that is because there is no resolution in the real world either.

I give this book Five out of Five. I get nothing for my review and I was given this book to review for an assignment in graduate school.