Tag Archives: Mark Chopper Read

Hit-and-run books & ‘literary’ works: true crime, from Garner to Chopper Read

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In her latest book, This House of Grief, Helen Garner examines the case of Robert Farquharson, who on Father’s Day 2005 drove his car into a dam off the Princes Highway near Geelong, drowning his three young sons. It is among a number of recent works that demonstrate how true crime writing has changed over the last few years.

Others are Anne Krien’s Night Games: Sex Power and Sport, which won the 2014 Sisters in Crime Davitt award for best true crime book, and Robin De Crespigny’s The People Smuggler, ostensibly a non fiction story about the experience of an Iraqi asylum seeker, which took the 2013 Ned Kelly crime writing award for best non-fiction. Matthew Condon’s Jacks and Jokers is another example. The second instalment of a trilogy about police corruption in Queensland from the sixties to the Fitzgerald Inquiry in 1987, it has the feel of an ambitious alternative social history rather than a piece of true crime writing.

“In terms of definition,” says veteran true crime writer Lindsay Simpson, “true crime is a literary rendition of a particular crime which pays homage to veracity by researching the crime across multiple sources including interviews and primary source documents while at the same time engaging the reader through its narrative.”

Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (1966), his investigation into the 1959 murder of a Kansas farmer Herbert Clutter, his wife and two of their four children, is often credited with pioneering the more literary end of the true crime genre.… Read more

Chopper Read and our fascination with true crime

ASS Chopper

Two weeks ago Overland Editor Jeff Sparrow posted a short piece on this site on the passing of Melbourne criminal identity, Mark ‘Chopper’ Read. It centred on the obvious, although important point the crimes of rich get treated very differently to those of the poor.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the media’s treatment of Read’s death. Partly because as a crime writer I feel implicated by association in the media’s often-salacious interest in true crime, and it raises questions about aspects of what we, as writers of true or fictional crime, do and how we do it.

It’s also interesting to ponder why Read became such a public figure and, by extension, why contemporary Australia is so fascinated with the criminal.

You can read the rest of this piece here on the Overland website.