The 1960s: news of riots, war, unheard-of behavior, and rampant crime crowds the papers and the airwaves. Spurned by his wife at home and by superiors at work, Earl Summerfield hunkers down in his cramped San Francisco apartment and keeps a diary that is a scratched record of a world going to pieces. The words he overhears, the words he wants to say, swim in his head, turning into fantasies of ambition, love, and retribution. He is sorry for himself. He is angry at everyone. He takes to going out at night, slipping into other people’s houses. He is looking for something, and he fixes on one woman.
The Diary of a Rapist builds with considerable suspense. The steady succession of entries conveys a sense of frightful change gradually eating away at a person beneath his outer shell. Yet Summerfield’s monstrousness remains human, and as he sinks deeper into madness, he also lives closer to a vision of truth: Society is corrupt; violence threatens at any moment; everyone, friend, foe, and official, lies to us constantly and shamelessly; we must undertake a sacred mission to punish the foulness and sin of the world. The lunatic has a message and tells it with a surprising and perverse force.
— Roger Shattuck
Connell is among the country’s foremost writers.
— Peter Matthiessen
The Diary of a Rapist is a bold and original piece of writing and further emphasizes the importance of Mr. Connell’s talent. He knows all the colors of darkness and the full sound of the heart’s anguish.
— The New York Times Book Review
- Format: Paperback
- Publication Date: July 31, 2004
- Pages: 272
- ISBN: 9781590170946
- Series: NYRB Classics