Imagination needs inspiration to bloom.


Lasermannen by Gellert Tamas

The true story about a boy with German parents, growing up in Sweden, and finally shooting eleven people, of which one died. It began with a little boy being different from the Swedish children, having dark hair and a different name - back then it was Wolfgang Alexander Zaugg - being bullied at the playground and not defended by his mother, who didn't comfort him and used to beat him. This created the first spark that would become John Ausonius. There was another factor as well. Something within him wasn't quite normal, his mental psyche was a little unstable, but he was considerate, loyal to his friends and properly dressed, so he was naturally described as a very nice young man. Early on he took a liking to order and discipline, and despised people that didn't "do anything" with their lives, such as his younger brother. He hated the 70's hippies with their long hair and free spirits. 

Eventually, he imagined himself studying at the university and become someone "important". Being better than the Swedes, he would probably not be bullied, he thought. He would be accepted. That was presumably his subconscious intention. He began to study, but it didn't go according to plan. He wasn't successful at the university. He couldn't concentrate and he couldn't follow orders. He thought everyone was stupid, and was not afraid to say so, even to the teachers. Another carrier path was the military. During his military service he didn't get along with anyone. He finally became a criminal and when in prison he escaped several times, before he was moved to Kumla - a high security prison. He served his time for some minor crimes and then was released. This was before he came up with the idea to get rid of immigrants. He soon began to distance himself from them, thinking they were all criminals and feeding on the society. He began to hate people with foreign backgrounds, and eventually the hate grew into action. He decided he would eliminate them, but when he couldn't find such people, any immigrant would do. So he started to shoot people that looked non-Swedish. People with dark hair, just like himself. Apart from the tragic shootings, he committed many bank robberies, physical abuses and economic frauds. When he wasn't content with his lawyer, he abused him in court. 

I think it's a horrible but rather interesting story about a person trying to suppress his background and distance himself from his roots, thinking that was the right thing to do. He wanted to blend in. His mental disability naturally helped form the murderer in him, but this book is also about the tune of society in the early 90's. Would he have become what he became if not treated as he was as a little boy? Would he have come up with the idea to shoot people with dark hair if the society had accepted them as fellow citizens? The society criticism is prominent when discussing the role of politicians and media in the racism context, claiming that with their lack of interest and politicians and media in the racism context, claiming that with their lack of interest and knowledge, they, in a way, contributed to preconceived notions, fear and thus the segregated community. I think the book has much to say about Sweden in the early 90's. 

Ausonius' had an identity crisis. He switched names two times, colored his hair to a fairer shade and got blue contact lenses. He wanted to melt in among the Swedish people, but he also wanted status and to be economically independent. Therefor, he thought it important for people to know he was smarter than most in his environment. He wanted to be seen as someone special. He wanted to be admired. He persuaded others and himself that he was highly educated despite the fact that he hadn't made it through a single course at the university. He was intelligent but in a narrow kind. He was very talented at arguing and debating, but at the same time he rented his car for his bank robberies in his own name, which finally led the police to him. Although, it took a long time to capture him. 

It's really tragic and depressing to follow a person turning into a monster, causing so much misery around him, destroying eleven people's lives. Ten survived, but they all suffered immensely and never became the same again. Furthermore, not only the people shot were affected. Everywhere, especially in Stockholm, people with a foreign background were afraid and wondered if they would be shot.

The author and journalist has chosen different perspectives in the book. The reader gets to see the world from the view of the victims, people in general, criminal investigators and Politicians. Tamas has adjusted the prose to the person thinking or feeling, and sometimes the reader gets to enter the head of the murderer, based on quotes from interviews with him.

This book reminds me of Gitta Sereny's "Into that darkness: An examination of conscience". People who like reading about the human psyche and what shapes people into monsters should definitely read this one.

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