Last Sunday afternoon, I made a cup of coffee, fired up the laptop, went online, noticed that the “manifesto” of Elliot Rodger, the Isla Vista killer, had been put online, clicked on to it — and didn’t get up for two hours. I didn’t move, save to scroll down, and at one point to feel my jaw drop.
If you haven’t read Rodger’s 140-page document, you may well not want to. It was described in the news as a “rambling manifesto”. If only. It is neither. A narrative of his life up to the point where he started on the series of killings, “My Twisted World” is no manifesto, nor is it rambling. Repetitive, yes, as Rodger recounts his perceived humiliations and injustices, and above all rejection by women. But what it is is relentless, driving, as beat by beat, Rodger draws us towards the event that happened soon after it was sent to friends and associates — the stabbing murder of three people in his apartment, and the drive-by shooting of three more, two of them young women outside a sorority house — just as he had said he would. It is a terrifying read because you know what’s coming, and because it has the structure of a thriller and may well have been shaped by the genre.