Monday, January 5, 2015

Amy Butcher: 'A Memoir of Friendship and Murder' due in April

Amy Butcher by Carmen Machado

You have a treat (of sorts) in store for spring. A treat, that is, if you like a tautly-written memoir about something almost unthinkable. Amy Butcher, the author and a graduate of the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Program, and Kevin were friends as undergraduates at Gettysburg College. Nothing romantic. But best buds. Then, a few weeks before graduation, Kevin walks Amy home and an hour later, murders his ex-girlfriend. He is arrested, sentenced to prison. That's when Amy becomes obsessed with him. Her memoir, "Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder," will be out from Penguin in April. I am reading an advance review copy. I am mesmerized. Here's an excerpt.  
Kevin followed me first from that Pennsylvania town to a larger town in Iowa. Then New York; New Hampshire; Ohio. He lived at first inside my heart and then my mind and then my closet. I wrote to Kevin as if he were merely away at camp, or boarding school, or a semester at sea, and while my intention, early on, was pure, somehow, over time, our letters became a testament to my life. They were an official record of my vitality, proof that I was still thinking and breathing and existing, moving from one town to the next, one lifestyle to another, living the life not taken from me. What began as a loving communication—Do you remember playing video games on projectors? Do you remember drinking sake with that famous poet?—had become an act of retribution.