The Columbine Pilgrim is one of those books that is viscerally disgusting and shocking, yet at the same time, you’re thankful for reading it because it fills you with hope. Just a glimmer of hope, but it’s there.
I should warn you though: this book is not for the squeamish.
I described Andy Nowicki in my Considering Suicide review as a guy who has mastered the art of using modernity’s own language and ethos to skewer it, and The Columbine Pilgrim is his finest work to date. The plot concerns Tony Meander, a lifelong loser who was mercilessly bullied and harassed in high school. The first part of the book concerns his “pilgrimage” to Columbine High School; having elevated Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to the status of demigods, we’re left to watch Meander relive his teenage torment in wrenching detail:
But I did no such thing. Instead, I saw myself shake, in fact, tremble with fear and embarrassment. And on this day, of all days, Patti seemed in a particularly frisky and sadistic mood, and uninclined to leave anything to anyone’s imagination. She grabbed my neck, put her face close to mine, practically within kissing range, and her tone changed to one of frank disgust.
“Have you got an erection, Tony?” she spat. “Who do you think you are, anyway? You really think I find you hot or something? You want to fuck me? Listen, you pathetic retard . . . YOU WILL NEVER FUCK ME. NEVER!”
This is why you should buy The Columbine Pilgrim: it’s the most brutal and honest depiction of omegahood you’ll find in modern literature. I unfavorably compared Frost’s Generation of Men to Columbine Pilgrim for that reason; where Frost’s presentation of omega is contrived and hackneyed, Nowicki’s is frank and in-your-face, enough so that it makes Meander’s fall from grace all the more breathtaking.
That’s the other reason why The Columbine Pilgrim succeeds: it’s complicated. It would have been really easy to turn it into a sentimental morality tale about the evils of intolerance, but Nowicki resists that urge with gusto. Meander may have been unfairly persecuted, but his suffering doesn’t make him into a better human being; on the contrary, it turns him into a snarling, egomaniacal monster. Indeed, Nowicki takes a few cracks at those obnoxiously didactic types at the end of the book:
“This one guy, [name redacted], stopped me in the hall one day, and asked me if I wanted an M&M. Some other guys behind him were snickering when he said this, so I knew they were up to no good. I said, ‘no thanks.’ But then they surrounded me, started smacking me across the head, threatened to beat me up, stared calling me a ‘pud’ and a ‘sped,’ and stuff, and I saw that if didn’t do what they said, things would just get worse, so I took the M&M and ate it in front of them, which just made them all bust out laughing. [Name redacted] told me that the M&M had been on the crack of his dick. I felt sick, and they laughed at me again, called me ‘cum-eater,’ and smacked me around some more before the tardy bell rang . . . This was par for the course. Every day it was something. Everybody knew, and nobody tried to stop it.”
The Columbine Pilgrim is not an easy book. It’s not something that will make you laugh, nor is it the kind of book you take into the bathroom with you. It’s a book that you’ll be turning over in your mind for days after you finish it. Nowicki’s characterization, tone and storytelling are perfect, and he respects his readers’ intelligence. If you buy only one book of his, it should be this.
Click here to buy The Columbine Pilgrim.
Read Next: Considering Suicide by Andy Nowicki