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Book: Murder and Other Essays

Murder and Other Essays

By David Adams Richards
Published in 2019 by Doubleday Canada
Finished reading: June 5th, 2021
Rating: 4.0 / 5


Murder is one of David’s great subjects. In his novels, in the Russian classics he loves and in his life, murder has been a shaping force. The title of this volume refers to a suite of essays on the subject: a hitchhiker with whom David strikes up an unnerving philosophical debate; the killers of the Miramichi and their victims; Caligula; the villains of Russian literature; and, forever in David’s mind as he examines this grim topic, the self-deception involved in the allure of evil.


I find that both of these camps, both the intellectual and the anti-intellectual, can have a common trait, and that is an unwitting eagerness for the adherents never to think independently.


I’m a big fan of David Adams Richards and read everything he publishes so I was happy to see a new collection of short stories and poetry. Much of his work is quite heavy and I find myself having to emotionally prepare myself just to start one of his novels. The past couple of years haven’t been the best for that sort of heavy reading so these essays and poems are the perfect size to get my fix without having a breakdown.

I found the collection gets off to a bit of a slow start but is unmistakably Richards. It picks up a little toward the middle where the essays are split by a collection of poetry. I don’t have the required depth of knowledge to properly enjoy and critique his poetry, but again it’s unmistakably Richards.

The essays after the poetry break really hit hard. The difference between the first half of essays and second is incredible. Starting with Playing the Inside Out, moving to August 1955 and into Scapegoats, the collection moves into the depths I’ve come to expect from Richards’ writing.

Hardcore Richards readers will have come across a few of these essays in other places over the last few decades so it may not all be new but I found it an excellent selection of his depth and breadth that even a reader new to the author will find captivating.