Reviews

How to Become a Monster

Patty Osborne

How does an ordinary guy who loves to cook, and who goes out of his way to produce meals using locally grown organic meat and vegetables for the loggers he is cooking for, become a war criminal? In Jean Barbe’s How to Become a Monster, translated by Patricia Wright (McArthur & Company), a Canadian lawyer goes to an unnamed country to defend a prisoner known as “The Monster” at a war crimes trial, and his investigation reveals a young man with a passion for cooking who had trouble finding a job, was betrayed by his lover and got screwed around by the government a few times—all things that can happen to any of us, except that these things happened to him in the midst of a civil war. The question of why the prisoner stepped over the line gets no clear answer, and we are left wondering whether, given similar circumstances, anyone could become a monster. A well-written and thought-provoking book.

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