Portrait of a School Shooter

November 8th, 2011

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, Cleveland High School. They all conjure up painful images of boys gone bad. We’ve all heard the teacher or the neighbor talk about what a good student or a nice boy some of these perpetrators were. But nice boys, normal boys, don’t kill their fellow students or themselves. So what happened? Can we ever really fully understand what goes on in the minds of these boys and what they tell us about ourselves? Was Cesar right, that “the fault is in ourselves.” Few have looked deeper into this abyss than novelist and journalist David Vann in his original Esquire article about Steven Kazmierczak and the Northern Illinois University shooting and in his most recent book Last Day on Earth: A Portrait of the NIU School Shooter. My conversation with David Vann: