For the past two decades, Martin McDonagh has established himself as a sensational writer of emotional disturbance and darkly funny exchanges in his Irish-set plays and crime-focused films. He may not be a household name, but that name already has an Academy Award and several Tony nominations under its belt. We have a number of his works in the collection worth recommending.
Written in the mid-Nineties, The Beauty Queen of Leenane and Other Plays offers a trilogy of stories centered around the same town and immediately shows McDonagh's gifts for cleverly inane banter and simmering tensions.
Joel and Ethan Coen might be the two finest filmmakers working in America today. There are few directors who have captured more entertaining, accurate, or varied instances of the American experience.
Nearly all of their films center around some sort of crime or illicit behavior. Sometimes the protagonist is the perpetrator. Other times he is a victim or an unwitting bystander sucked into the chaos. Almost always though, the protagonist is a fool.
Jon Ronson sees insanity all around him. Partially that is because as a journalist he is drawn to write stories in which people engage in erratic behavior. It is also because he has learned The Psychopath Test, and he cannot stop administering the 20-point checklist to everyone around him.
Item 1: Glibness/superficial charm
Item 2: Grandiose sense of self-worth
Item 3: Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
Item 4: Pathological lying
And, so on. From a rude concierge at a hotel to the CEO of a giant corporation, no matter where Ronson looks, everything's coming up psycho.
Steve Harmon is sixteen years old and on trial for murder in Monster by Walter Dean Myers, which takes the reader through the suspenseful trial and the verdict. Steve is a young man who has never been in trouble before. Suddenly, he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Is he truly guilty or just guilty by association? Can a young man be on trial for having made poor choices?
Steve recounts the events that transpired the night of the robbery at the convenience store. He says he just happened to be there at the moment the robbery and murder took place. But a murder did occur and the prosecution is looking for the guilty party -- and they think they have found it in Steve. The term "monster" is the one used by the prosecutor as she describes Steve and his alleged actions -- but is Steve really a monster or is she just trying to build a case against Steve? When Steve hears this term used to describe himself, he is very disturbed.