Books

The Collected Writings of Amanda Knox

A Review of the Short Story That's Become Evidence in a MurderCase

The Collected Writings 
of Amanda Knox

STR/AFP/Getty Images

Knox at the Crime Scene

Twenty-year-old University of Washington creative-writing student Amanda Knox posted a short story called "Baby Brother" on her MySpace blog last December to a resounding lack of interest from the world at large. It got a grand total of one comment. A year later, the short story has achieved global notoriety, having been quoted and/or mentioned by the Associated Press, MSNBC, the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Irish Examiner, all the London newspapers and tabloids, newspapers in Italy, etc. Never in American history has a short story gotten so much attention, although the attention has nothing to do with literary greatness.

Knox (in Italy for a study-abroad program) and two men are being held by Italian authorities in connection with the rape and murder of a 21-year-old British foreign-exchange student, Meredith Kercher, who lived in Knox's apartment. Kercher was found dead there on the morning of November 2, half-clothed, covered with signs of struggle, having bled to death from a gash in her neck.

Unlike Knox's constantly changing story about whether she was home the night of the murder—first it was widely reported that Knox said she wasn't in the apartment during the murder, then it was widely reported that Knox admitted to being in the apartment and covering her ears while Kercher screamed, then it was widely reported that Knox had reverted to her previous statement that she hadn't been in the apartment at all the night of the murder, then (on Monday of this week) it was widely reported that authorities had discovered a tape of Knox entering the apartment on the night of the murder on closed-circuit television—the plot of "Baby Brother" remains fixed, its details unchanged since the day she wrote it.

Last week, Knox's MySpace page was set to private, though not before The Stranger—and other news organizations—had printed out the contents of Knox's blog. On November 7, London's Daily Mail wrote that the writing on Knox's blog gave "worrying insight into the bizarre life which has led the 20-year-old brunette to an Italian police cell," and, with specific reference to "Baby Brother," that "the discovery of the prose, which will now be examined by detectives, casts a new light on the woman." But the ostensible "insight" provided by this ostensible "new light" went unarticulated. You were just supposed to infer it, since "Baby Brother" is built around an older brother (Edgar) confronting his younger brother (Kyle) for drugging and raping a girl.

The only new light that "Baby Brother" casts on the murder suspect is that she wasn't a very good short-story writer. She emphasizes characters' furrowed brows and facial creases and is overly fond of the word "sand" ("His husky voice sounded like it was crawling out of a bucket of sand"; "His skin reminded him of sand, and how sand was all stretched and washed out on a cold beach"; a character named Sandra has "sandy blond hair"). When Edgar is about to confront Kyle, we get this rather overbaked sentence: "His mouth was drawn tight and creased at the edges, and for a second Edgar thought he was going to say something, but he felt the tightness of his brow ease and he swallowed a large, slippery gulp of the aching, burning rage that pulsated in his forehead, chest, and throat." These are unmistakably the contorted metaphors and maudlin exaggerations concocted by someone who doesn't know what she's talking about, who's making it up whole cloth.

The story's biggest weakness from a literary standpoint is that none of it is believable. Kyle, the story's rapist, is a cheeseball bad guy who first tells his brother, "A thing you have to know about chicks is that they don't know what they want," and then punches Edgar in the face. Anyone who's ever read a handful of college-level creative-writing assignments knows that date rape is a cliché of the genre, as is someone-punching-someone-else-in-the-face. These are the sorts of conflicts that creative-writing students cook up because they're taught that the first thing they need to do is cook up conflict. After Edgar gets punched by his brother (described as feeling "like someone was jabbing a razor into the left side of his face," which isn't what getting punched in the face feels like), Edgar is on the floor bleeding profusely. "He spit into the blossoming smudge beside his head." That's pretty evocative, that "blossoming smudge."

Still, the most evocative writing related to the Knox case was a description in the Seattle P-I on November 11 of the prison where Knox is currently staying. It's "nestled between olive groves and pines in the hills outside Perugia." According to the P-I, "Behind bars, Knox has support services available to her, including psychologists, nuns, and the prison chaplain, a Catholic priest. She is said to be spending most of her time writing." recommended

frizzelle@thestranger.com

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Comments (14) RSS

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1
For anyone who is interested in the facts behind the media spin, and who cares to learn more about the victim of this terrible murder - Meredith Kercher - there is an excellent discussion board

http://perugiamurderfile.freeforums.org/…

as well as an interesting blog

http://truejustice.org/ee/index.php

These online resources are not for profit. Anyone can read and/or participate and people from around the world do. They have followed this case since last November, and are in no way related to Amanda Knox. Nor are they her friends
Posted by Harry Rag on January 10, 2009 at 6:47 AM · Report this
2
For anyone who is interested in the facts behind the media spin, and who cares to learn more about the victim of this terrible murder - Meredith Kercher - there is an excellent discussion board

http://perugiamurderfile.freeforums.org/…

as well as an interesting blog

http://truejustice.org/ee/index.php

These online resources are not for profit. Anyone can read and/or participate and people from around the world do. They have followed this case since last November, and are in no way related to Amanda Knox. Nor are they her friends
Posted by Harry Rag on January 10, 2009 at 6:55 AM · Report this
3
No post of the entire cliched story?
You realize, of course, that you also run into the cliche side of things with your accusatory cliche-calling? And eventually, along with all sophomoric renderings of long-established, completely overstated truths, my words will become cliche by my freshly written definition and admission. For that I apologize, but soon my apology will turn cliche, followed shortly by the rouse of annoyed sighs that will turn cliche thereafter. In the end, all the cliches available will once again be considered normal, yet not abused and it will be those that scour at the sands of normality who are outside the glass house throwing fits.
Posted by jfljoe on January 15, 2009 at 7:01 PM · Report this
4
*rolls eyes*
Posted by Max on June 12, 2009 at 1:00 PM · Report this
5
Where can I find the damn story? I want to read it myself, not read a review of it.
Posted by Erin8999999 on August 12, 2009 at 10:26 AM · Report this
6
If my college creative writing section's output had been investigated by detectives and publicized by tabloids, we'd have all been preemptively executed.
Posted by aaaa on December 5, 2009 at 11:33 AM · Report this
7
It's a small world, your day will come, @aaaa
Posted by justice for all on December 6, 2009 at 9:21 AM · Report this
8
I can't believe the innumerable inconsistentcies and blatant disregard for justice in this case. Mignini set out to convict Amanda and spun outrageous headline grabbing tale coupled with a salacious sexually charged character assaination campaign. The verdict is so disturbing in this case that it makes me entirely frightened of the validity of the Italian justice system.

I found a blog that has a lot of links and corresponds with the site set up by Amanda's friends which provides extreme insight into the case, if anyone else is as interested as I am.

http://bedsidedetective.blogspot.com/200…
Posted by Md3333 on December 10, 2009 at 3:59 AM · Report this
9
Apparently Mr Frizzelle has been punched in the face often. I'm not surprised ;))
Posted by HarryHag on July 10, 2010 at 4:11 PM · Report this
10
If someone was to frame anyone, why wouldn't the myspace story seem incriminating?
Posted by Trusty45 on February 27, 2011 at 8:26 AM · Report this
11
If someone was to frame anyone, why wouldn't the myspace story seem incriminating? Then again the mobster claiming his brother and some Albanian botched a robbery seems a tad impulsive too.
Posted by trusty458 on February 27, 2011 at 8:29 AM · Report this
12
If someone was to frame anyone, why wouldn't the myspace story seem incriminating? Then again the mobster claiming his brother and some Albanian botched a robbery seems a tad impulsive too.
Posted by Trusty450 on February 27, 2011 at 8:29 AM · Report this
13
i thought she was innocent and wanted to believe it but the more you know about the case the more you know she was involved in some way. if she did the actual killing is impossible to say.
she lived in the the house but there were almost no finger prints of hers there. they cleaned up the house with bleach just before the police got there. how they left just Guede's prints and dna but not theirs is hard to explain. i think she also covered up the body. who else would do that?
it's disturbing to see a young girl involved in this.
Posted by ace540i on March 1, 2011 at 7:51 AM · Report this
14
Amanda Knox is guilty. The only people who believe that she is innocent are low-information people who have not taken the time to learn about the trial. As ace540i said the more you look into it the more you know Knox is guilty.

Here is a comprehensive source of all the documents in the trial. Most have been translated and summerized the rest you can use google translate to read them in broken English

http://themurderofmeredithkercher.com
Posted by Fuji on October 26, 2013 at 12:51 PM · Report this

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