Lanza’s New Yorker Interview and Fictional Material

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I generally abhor the “ripped from the headlines” style of books and television shows. To the point that I’ve often wondered if the writers for those Law and Order shows get reduced rates since they’re not really creating things from whole cloth.

But here is a situation that could make for amazing fiction.

In Andrew Solomon’s New Yorker article “The Reckoning” which features exclusive interview material with Peter Lanza, father of Sandy Hook Elementary shooter Adam Lanza, there’s an especially noteworthy passage.

As soon as she got home, they called Ryan and began the two-hour drive to his place, in Hoboken. Ryan had also left his office early; by the time he got home, the police had taped off his apartment building. Adam had been carrying Ryan’s I.D., which had led to the confusion. Ryan approached the police with his arms up and said, “You’re looking for me, but I didn’t do it.” He was taken to a police station, so Peter and Shelley headed there, too. They were questioned for a couple of hours and were made to wait for two more before they were allowed to see Ryan. They went to the home of an aunt of Peter’s to regroup; they were shuttled to a hotel, then to Shelley’s family’s house and other safe houses, with a canine unit supplied by the police for security; they were interviewed by the F.B.I., the state police, and various local authorities. “We didn’t even have clothes,” Peter said. “I had to borrow my lawyer’s pants.” Eventually, they headed to New Hampshire to arrange Nancy’s funeral, and had to evade a stakeout by news media, which wanted to cover it. I asked what they had done about a funeral for Adam. “No one knows that,” Peter said. “And no one ever will.”

Without making excuses, or celebrating a tragedy, or passing judgement on anyone, that situation right there seems like a loaded opportunity for fiction. The whole article is worth reading and it is certainly getting lots of mainstream media coverage. But I’m just left wondering what fiction writers could do with those few hours and days.

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