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8 people’s lives come together in a mass shooting in novel American Roulette

  • Scott LaMar
Matthew Best and Sherry Knowlton.

Matthew Best and Sherry Knowlton.

aired; November 6th, 2023.

Eight people were killed and 28 injured in shootings in Chicago over the weekend. An 11-year-old boy was shot to death and five others injured in Cincinnati Saturday. Those incidents don’t seem to get much national attention because they’re not out of the ordinary.

Mass shootings with lots of casualties do, like the one that left 15 people dead in Lewiston, Maine last month.

But mass shootings are so common too that there are now established patterns — the shock of the shooting incident, the initial reports which may or may not be accurate, the thought and prayers level, the gun control debate and then on to the next one. A new book, called American Roulette  – written by eight different authors – is a fictionalized account in the day of people involved in a mass shooting from the time they wake up on the fateful morning until the tragedy itself and aftermath.

On The Spark Monday, we were joined by two of the authors of American Roulette – Rev. Matthew Best and Sherry Knowlton.

Rev. Best came up with the idea for the book after a mass shooting earlier this year,”I thought, what’s missing? The humanity? These are people’s lives that they have been cut short. And it’s very easy to have this debate where people talk past each other because that’s an abstract idea. But these are people’s lives.”

Best added,”They didn’t just show up all of a sudden at this shooting. They were living their life just like you and I. Just like anybody else. And they have plans. They have loved ones. And so what happens in what I’ve noticed in these shootings is we end up with a focus on the numbers, the focus on the loss, the focus on, again, going into what should we do without taking a look at, well, who are we talking about? There’s  teachers, there’s fathers and mothers and sons. And these are people who were going to do things and they were cut short. And it’s not just them. It has a ripple effect that goes beyond that. So every time that one of these shootings happens, it’s not just the victims. It’s also the shooter, the humanity of the shooter as well, which is very hard for people to talk about because we want a scapegoat of this is the evil and we want to throw all that onto them and come up with some excuse as opposed to seeing there’s a human being as well that has caused this.”

Knowlton said that even though the book doesn’t come right out and say it, there is an overarching theme, “The most direct is that today in America, this could happen to any one of us at any time. And the whole concept of American roulette is that in Russian roulette, the person who’s playing the quote game has is holding a pistol to their own head, and they may or may not get shot depending on when the bullet strikes the chamber. But in American roulette, all of us can be going about our lives, and we don’t know that somebody else has picked up that rifle or gun and is playing a game that we don’t even know that we’re about to become participants in and probably be the losers.”

Now, that is a scary thought.

The authors of American Roulette are Matthew Best, Robert Bradshaw, Andy Carey, James Dodds, Cheryl Dunn Bychek, Sherry Knowlton, Pat LaMarche, Phyllis Orenyo, J.M. West and Cheryl Woodruff Brooks.

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