Wednesday, November 7, 2012


What Happened to Michelle in Forest Hills?

Janet Malcolm is bringing her (considerable) A-game to the New York Review of Books with the sort of thing Janet Malcolm is better at writing about than almost anyone else:

Michelle’s story, in fact, was never newsworthy. She was always a recessive and passive character, the object of other characters’ fantasies and desires, her image vague and undelineated like that of the offstage changeling boy in A Midsummer’s Night Dream over whom Titania and Oberon wrangle. A Daily News story that appeared the day after the verdict, under the headline “Slain Dentist’s Kid Happy Now”—with the subhead “‘She doesn’t know anything,’ uncle sez of girl whose mom had dad shot dead”—was a characteristic exercise in journalistic resourcefulness in the face of insufficient knowledge.

This is the first of three parts, so you may want to decide how you, personally, rank receiving closure over, say, enjoying fine long-form journalism and wait it out accordingly?

9 Comments / Post A Comment


Can someone suggest what Janet Malcolm I should read next? I've read the book above, The Silent Woman, and Two Lives, do you guys have a favorite piece?

Nicole Cliffe

@mackymoo "In The Freud Archives." Have fun!


I really look forward to reading this @a


What a gorgeous-looking family. (Shallow, sorry.)


This made my stomach hurt. That poor little girl.

I've known wonderful, caring, loving foster parents but the system as a whole seems so screwed up. I'm sure everyone involved thought that they were doing what was best for Michelle (I hope...) but wow, were they failing her.

(Please, oh please let this have a happier ending)


Wow. I've read Malcolm's earlier book on the case, "Iphegenia in Forest Hills," and it really seems like Malcolm is doing something extraordinary here. I can't think of another journalist who followed the consequences of a murder out so far, for so long, and so sensitively, especially when the "drama" of the case was over. It's like the antidote for every one-hour crime procedural ever written. It's beautiful, and so sad.


@Kristen thanks for the title. I just bought this book, as this is the first I've heard of Ms. Malcom, and I am impressed by her writing style/sensitivity in this article.


This story has been so fascinating to me, from soup to nuts - I have the worst rubbernecking tendencies when it comes up. Looking forward to reading this!


Does remind me of Gitta Sereny's books on Mary Bell. The first was on the trial itself, the second a more nuanced look at Mary Bell's life as a whole. Really eye-opening. I'm definitely picking up Iphigenia in Forest Hills.

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