The Book of Matt

  • by Stephen Jimenez
  • Narrated by Paul Fleschner
  • 11 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Late on the night of October 6, 1998, Matthew Shepard, a twenty-one-year-old gay college student, left a bar in Laramie, Wyoming with two alleged "strangers" Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. Eighteen hours later, Matthew was found tied to a log fence on the outskirts of town, unconscious and barely alive. He had been pistol-whipped so severely that the mountain biker who discovered his battered frame mistook him for a Halloween scarecrow. Overnight, a politically expedient myth took the place of important facts. By the time Matthew died a few days later, his name was synonymous with anti-gay hate.
Stephen Jimenez went to Laramie to research the story of Matthew Shepard's murder in 2000, after the two men convicted of killing him had gone to prison, and after the national media had moved on. His aim was to write a screenplay on what he, and the rest of the nation, believed to be an open-and-shut case of bigoted violence. As a gay man, he felt an added moral imperative to tell Matthew's story. But what Jimenez eventually found in Wyoming was a tangled web of secrets. His exhaustive investigation also plunged him deep into the deadly underworld of drug trafficking. Over the course of a thirteen-year investigation, Jimenez traveled to twenty states and Washington DC, and interviewed more than a hundred sources.
Who was the real Matthew Shepard and what were the true circumstances of his brutal murder? And now that he was larger than life, did anyone care? The Book of Matt is sure to stir passions and inspire dialogue as it re-frames this misconstrued crime and its cast of characters, proving irrefutably that Matthew Shepard was not killed for being gay but for reasons far more complicated - and daunting.


What the Critics Say

"Mr. Jimenez's book is most useful in illuminating the power of the media to shape the popular conception of an event. It shows how a desire for Manichaean morality tales can lead us to oversimplify the human experience. . . . Mr. Jimenez's findings cast doubt on what he calls the Shepard story's function as latter-day 'passion play and folktale.'" (The Wall Street Journal)
“Now comes Stephen Jimenez with The Book of Matt, and this most detailed effort to rescue the protagonists from caricature is, with a few exceptions, being coolly ignored or pilloried for 'blaming the victim.' . . . Jimenez does not polemicize or tread deeply into the psyches of the main figures. Rather, he explores the drug-fueled world they inhabited, and evokes its thick air of violence. . . . Jimenez spent thirteen years to tell his story. . . In this story, Shepard and McKinney were neither lamb nor wolf; they were human commodities, working for rival drug circles to support their habits, and occasionally forced to pay their debts in sex... What impelled McKinney to loathe his desires, and Shepard relentlessly, dangerously to test himself, and Henderson to follow orders? Violence lacerated these young men long before the murder, and it will not be diminished or resisted by myths and vengeful laws." ( JoAnn Wypijewski in The Nation)
"Jimenez is careful to point out that his goal is to understand Shepard as a complex human being and make the fullest possible sense of his murder, not to suggest in any way that he deserved his horrific fate. . . . Jimenez’s problem is that he has trodden on hallowed ground. America, as John Ford cannily observed in his western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, is a country that likes to build up its heroes and villains and rarely appreciates having the record corrected to restore them to the stature of ordinary, fallible human beings. By now, Shepard’s story has been elevated close to legend, and Shepard himself to a near-messianic figure who suffered for the ultimate benefit of the rest of us. . . . Many of Jimenez’s central contentions are shared by the prosecutor in the case, Cal Rerucha, and by police officers who investigated the murder." (The Guardian)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

How to Maker Hero of Lowlife Meth Dealer

The book is valuable in showing how the death of a lowlife meth dealer/addict homosexual hustler was turned into a cause celebre by the gay/liberal establishment. Shepard was no hero, he was a deeply messed up semi-pro gay hustler and drug dealer, who got what criminals in that line of work often get - a nasty, sordid death. The author is to be commended for telling the truth. However, the book could have been cut by at least half and made the point. It repeats the same sordid scenes over and over (Matt and some of his buddies and an older drug dealer thug pervert getting "frisky" (author's word, not mine) in the back of a stretch limo, making runs to Denver to pick up and deliver crystal meth. Poor little Matt was not targeted by redneck cowboys who hated gays; he was beaten and killed by cowboy redneck fellow homosexuals for not paying up for the drugs he got on credit from them.
There is too much author intrusion for my taste. The author should stay in the background.
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- Richard

This book was an exercise in exasperation.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

No one

What could Stephen Jimenez have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

He could of not said the same thing 20 different ways in the same chapter. It was very frustrating trying to listen to this book because it was the same thing over and over and over again.

How did the narrator detract from the book?


What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment because he jumped all over the place saying the same thing 20 different ways.

Any additional comments?

I didn't even finish the book because I just could not listen to it anymore.

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- christina s hughes

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-24-2013
  • Publisher: steerforth press l.l.c.