Sunday, November 12, 2017

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land (2017), by Marilyn Hesse

This book is about two extreme personalities who commit arson as an unusual form of lovemaking. It's about the community in which they commit this crime, nearly 60 times in a single year. It's about two individuals who want significance. One of them wants to keep the love of the woman he's fallen for. The woman wants attention and satisfaction and confirmation of her worth. It's never clear which one of the two instigates or promotes the crimes. The man claims that arson is the woman's way of getting sexual satisfaction since he can't seem to perform. She claims that he just wanted to set fires and took her along for the ride. She's fairly intelligent. He's not. It's possible she manipulated him. In fact, it's almost obvious that in some ways she manipulated him since while he's in jail, having confessed to most of the acts of arson, she is out of jail taking care of her children and having affairs. He thinks she loves him. She might love him, in fact, but love for her doesn't mean fidelity. Love for her means moving along to the next partner when the first one is in jail for the long term. The man is easily intimidated by the police once they figure out that he's the arsonist, or at least one of them. The woman, on the other hand, is absolutely imperturbable. She never cracks. She never waivers in her declarations of innocence. At least not until her lawyer convinces her that if she doesn't confess she's going to be in jail for most of the rest of her life.

No comments: