An Appreciation: “This is How I Murdered the Librarian” by Michael A. Arnzen

As part of The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly’s blog tour for April I thought I’d offer a few words in appreciation of Michael Arnzen’s poem “This is How I Murdered the Librarian.” Like most of Arnzen’s verse, it’s a doozy–read it here.

What I love about this piece, aside from the obvious ghoulish glee that permeates each line, is how Arnzen turns the cliched librarian details–like the shushing finger–on themselves in grim parody during the act of murder, while corrupting classic childrens’ characters by making them complicit in the act before eliminating them in fiery death.

In his note after the poem, Arnzen says the piece “may be more about crimes against books than anything else,” and it’s where “This is How” strikes its most brutal chord. Is there a bibliophile capable of reading this poem without experiencing a sickening lurch in the gut while the narrator destroys an entire library along with his victim? (I also suspect we’re supposed to be more aghast at that than the murder.)

Many readers, like I did at first glance, will see this poem as a comment on the print-vs.-ebook debate. Arnzen gives us precious few details about this killer–implying a surly youth so beholden to technology that dusty old books are beneath contempt–without really giving a clear motivation for the murder. But then I re-read the first stanza, which ends with a line about “a private show and tell,” and saw that perhaps this is a much-deserved revenge. And the librarian, who used books to her own sinister means, meets a fitting end.

That, right there, is what makes this poem great.

Advertisements

One Response to “An Appreciation: “This is How I Murdered the Librarian” by Michael A. Arnzen”

  1. […] something for a calendar day related to his journal of crime poetry. I’ve participated in the past (and I also published a new piece at the 5-2 just last month for “Pi Day”) but this […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: