Eliza Clark and Stefan Spjut
Is this a new trend? Non-fiction fiction books? (Fictional non-fiction books?) There was the new Catherine Lacey novel (which I did not read), and now this.… Anyway.
Penance is a work of true crime about a fictional crime. It is in its form, tone, and so on completely non-fictional, it’s just that none of the people are real, and nothing in it happened. The case it describes involves three high school girls—Dolly, Angelica, and Violet—who murder Joni, one of their peers. The fictional murder very closely adheres to the real-life murder of Shanda Sharer (though there are some details that resemble the murder of Suzanne Capper),1 down even to its motivations (delusions the victim was stealing your girlfriend).2
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This book is an extremely carefully observed simulacrum of true crime writing. Even the sort o…
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