Sunday, March 13, 2016

#NFBookClub: Missoula Discussion #1

It’s check-in time for the Nonfiction Book Club at Doing Dewey, This month we are reading Missoula by Jon Krakauer and the first discussion is posted. Here are the questions from Katie, along with my answers.

What do think of the author’s tone? Does he come across as an unbiased reporter and should he?
To be honest, he does not come across as totally unbiased, and yes, to have credibility he does as least need to appear unbiased. It seems to me that he may be cherry-picking the most obvious, clear-cut cases so that there is no doubt these men are guilty. Rape is a horrible crime, but I don’t think it does any good to ignore the fact that sometimes men are falsely accused and sometimes there really are differing perceptions about what happened when. It also bothers me a little that at times the questions asked by the police and their slow, methodical gathering of evidence is criticized by him. No matter how horrible the crime, we still need to go with ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

So far, do you think this is a worthwhile read? Do you feel it serves a purpose?
I’m on the fence right now. I think I need to see where this ends up before I decide if it is worthwhile. There is a lot of criticism of the system so far, but I’m wondering if there are any concrete suggestions on how to make thing better when I finish the book. If not, I may feel like the book is sensationalism.
Are there any facts that have particularly surprised you or that you think other people should be aware of?
I guess I’m a little surprised by the fact that some of these men, Frank in particular, did not seem to understand that what he was doing was considered rape and was NOT OK! And particularly how predatory he and his fraternity friends were. This was a learned behavior! One of the local school districts near here just revised their sex ed curriculum — not without some controversy — and one of the bigger changes is that they will now be teaching 8th-graders and 10th-graders about sexual consent. It’s sad that is necessary, but after reading about Frank, it’s obvious that the discussion is needed.
How are you liking the book so far?
I am actually, and that surprises me. I think I expected it to be a difficult topic to read about and to be a dry read full of statistics. It IS difficult at times, but the story flows very well, and it is very readable. Even though at times I feel the author is manipulating me, and having the conversation HE wants to have, I am not sorry we picked this one up.

There are my answers. I wonder if they will change any as I read further into the book.
Are you participating in the Read-Along? How do your answers compare with mine? Be sure to visit the discussion page on Katie’s blog to learn what other readers think of the book!

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  1. This is certainly an emotional topic and I can see how it would be hard to give balanced answers to all sides. I've had this one in my audio library for a while, but I'll have to be 'in the mood' to listen to it. I've read other books by this author and really liked them. Will be interested in hearing what your final assessment is after you finish.

  2. I still need to go back and add my own answers to these questions to my post, but I agree with a lot of what you had to say. I'm not certain the author is being completely unbiased. At some point in the book, he uses the phrase "alleged rape" and I realized that he's talking about all the others as though they definitely happened. While I'm convinced they did based on the evidence he's shared and in some cases it seems as though rapists weren't convicted despite overwhelming evidence, I'm a little torn about whether his narrative style isn't in some cases leaning too much towards an assumption of guilt. I want to pay attention to this more in the second half, because I think my own bias on the topic makes it harder for me to recognize his.

    I was also shocked and horrified that some rapists might be unaware that what they're doing counts as rape and is completely immoral. I'm not finding the book very enjoyable so far though. It's just so frustrating and I don't feel as though it's describing a problem I can do much to fix.