Tired of Being Boring

Katharine Weber

  • Halfway Heaven: Diary of a Harvard Murder by Melanie Thernstrom
    Virago, 219 pp, £9.99, November 1998, ISBN 1 86049 496 X

Harvard, murder. How much more intriguing that sounds than, say, Harlem, murder. When the story broke, in spring 1995, Melanie Thernstrom was assigned to cover it for the New Yorker. She had graduated from Harvard in 1987, and had lived in Dunster House, where the murder took place. Teaching creative writing at the University in 1992, she briefly met the future murderer, whom she did not select for a seminar. Halfway Heaven is an expanded version of her original piece of reportage, with some autobiographical passages and a certain amount of philosophising: the book opens with a description of the 1996 Harvard Commencement in order to make the point that there are no references ‘throughout the long commencement day, to two girls who are not there to graduate with their class, and whose fate reflects ... the problem of evil’.

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