Friday, June 14, 2013

Hello Herman by John Mailer

Paperback, 54 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Dramatists Play Service
From Goodreads
Video Games, violent movies, Marilyn Manson, the Internet, Prozac, or fame? What moves a teenager to cross the line and become a high—school shooter? More importantly how do we stop it? Pulitzer Prize—winning journalist Lax Morales is looking for a follow up to his groundbraking undercover piece on white supermacists. Although his video blog has an unprecedented online following among teens, Lax has been written off as Internet trash by the elite of the publishing world. He needs a big story and he knows it. After killing thirtynine students and teachers in a suburban Iowa school, sixteen—year—old Herman Howards takes the time to email video clips of the incident to his idol, Lax. He adds one line to the clips: "I want to tell my story on your show."The public pushes for herman's televised execution as Lax conducts three days of interviews, using every tool at his disposal to discover what drives the current poster—boy for evil. HELLO HERMAN is a mind—blowing examination of how tragic events like Columbina and Virginia Tech continue to happen in our country. No stone is left unturned as Lax searches for an answer to the question everyon's been asking but no one has been able to find: Why?
The sheer amount of kids tormenting other kids that remains present in our school systems blows my mind. With the programs that have been put in place to put a stop to this behavior I'd think that there would be less incidences but that isn't so. Bullying remains alive and kicking in our schools, playgrounds and even homes across America.
Take Herman Howards, a 16 year old boy who takes it upon himself to murder 39 of his peers that he says "had it coming" and he justifies this brutal mass murder as "standing up for the kids like me all around the world". Let's face it, we all know that children can be capable of the cruelest deeds with little thought to the emotional outcome.
John Mailer captures this perfectly while delving into Herman's mind through Lax Morales, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who exposed a white supremacist group a few years prior. Lax's expose didn't come at a small price to his personal life. Lax is now an Internet blogger with a strong teen following which leads to Herman sending video clips of his heinous crime to Lax.
Lax spends three days interviewing Herman while his trial is expedited and the public opinion is torn between those that want to see Herman executed and those that feel the taking of his life is no better than the mass killing he performed. While interviewing Herman, Lax is forced to view his own past behavior which was less than admirable.
Mr. Mailer focuses on a variety of issues that could lead to such an occurrence such as violent video games, absentee parents, the death of a sibling and let us not forget the bullying that is ever-present in today's society and he rolls this all into one big ball of issues that form Herman's psyche and mental state at the time of the school shooting.
I can't say that there were any real eye openers in this book - there weren't. Anyone who watches the news knows that bullying remains both a realistic and desperate issue. It isn't just for children but also for adults. It's imperative to be aware of not only how our children our behaving towards others but how others are behaving towards them and more importantly how are media/entertainment outlets affecting them? Do you believe that such things as violent music and video games, etc... can cause violent behavior? These are important issues that face today's youth.
* Side note: This is a bit different to read as it's written in a play format but no less 'dramatic' for its efforts. A great find at a garage sale! I'd love to see the play!


  1. With Facebook and twitter and You Tube bullying is easier than ever. Cyber bullying is the most accessible form of bullying. Educating our children is the best hope. Making them understand that difference doesn't mean bad. It's been that way for millenia. Witch burnings to Civil War to Hitler and beyond. Difference equals bullying. I hope that was summer in the book.


  2. Interesting read for certain but so sad that it has to be true. Bullying has not been alleviated despite our best efforts as a society....but then again, are we all really giving it our best? Until we all stand up for the injustices we see on a day to day basis and lead others to that same end, true and permanent change will be slow coming. Great thought provoking post.

  3. haven't read it but it's definitely been on my list

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