Powers (The Man Who Flew the Memphis Belle, 2001, etc.) waxes nostalgic for his long-gone youth in Hannibal, Missouri, a place he shared “with a god of American literature,” Mark Twain. His 1940s childhood was punctuated by radio programs, baseball, and Twain’s lyrical prose. But in 1997, Powers was shocked to learn that Hannibal—“America’s Home Town”—was the backdrop of two killings committed by adolescent boys. The first involved two bored teenagers cruising around town who spotted 61-year-old James Walker out jogging and decided to “door” him. They drove alongside and opened the passenger door into his path, catching Walker full in the face and causing massive brain injuries that resulted in his death two days later. The second murder was committed by a troubled 17-year-old who shot his girlfriend’s stepgrandfather at close range while he slept, then stole his wallet and truck and drove aimlessly into the night. Powers blames the murders, and America’s emotionally starved youth, on rap music, daycare, video games, and slasher movies. He also seems astonished to learn that children are delivered to daycare as early as 6:00
Three narrative strands that never fully come together.