Pieter Bruegel the elder, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, 1558

by Mary Barnett

            It’s been a busy, if ordinary, week. Husband: work. Daughter: camp. Neighbors: fence. Cat: vet. Hot water heater: dead. I’ve withdrawn from the news lately.

John Ruskin, The Matterhorn, 1849

by Veronica Tomasic

Zermatt lies at the end of a narrow valley, near the base of the Matterhorn, and life in the village unfolds in the mountain’s majestic presence. Throughout a day, if it is not completely obscured by clouds .  .  .

Mary Barnett

by Mary Barnett

            He was a good brother, not that he ever gave her any advice or protected her in a fight or introduced her to one of his friends or even talked to her in front of his friends or took her to a ball game .  .  .

Gustave Le Gray, Metropolitan Museum of Art

from Harold Schechter’s Murderabilia

At around nine A.M. on Saturday, September 18, 1841, a thirty-four-year-old carter named Richard Barstow was driving his wagon down lower Manhattan. It was a raw, drizzly morning.

Edward Hopper, Office in a Small City, 1953

by Feisal G. Mohamed

The whirlwinds of moving house recently swept me into the checkout line of my local K-Mart, waiting an inordinately long time to purchase a single infant safety item.

Naomi Wise’s tombstone

from Harold Schechter’s Murderabilia

The oldest form of true crime literature is the one folklorists call “murder ballads,” a genre dating at least as far back as the Middle Ages, when these sung or recited verses spread the news about shocking real-life homicides among the illiterate peasantry.

Edvard Munch, “Scream” Head and Raised Arms,
ca 1898, via the 
Munch Museum website

by Feisal G. Mohamed

Taking offense seems now to be one of the chief arts of conversation, and we all know people who do it with remarkable energy. Tell a joke that is off color by even the slightest shade .  .  .

Winnie Ruth Judd’s baggage

from Harold Schechter’s Murderabilia

            Some murders inspire ghoulish fascination not because they are especially grisly but because the methods used to dispose of the victims are so gruesome.

Moretto da Brescia, Portrait of a Dominican, Presumed to be Girolamo Savonarola, 1524

by Feisal G. Mohamed

God may not be dead, but He doesn’t get invited to many cocktail parties. In our elaborate and unwritten code of social conduct, we allow Him to make only the rarest of appearances, and even then on closely circumscribed terms .  .  .

from Harold Schechter’s Murderabilia

            Like every other atrocity that human beings have perpetrated against their own kind, child-snatching is undoubtedly as old as the species.  We know this, among other ways, from the folktales of the world.