Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Belly of the Beast

Just finished In the Belly of the Beast (Letters from Prison) by Jack Henry Abbot. One of the most gripping testimonies I've ever read, still a classic of prison/institutional literature. The book is both a clear-eyed account of prison violence and a plea for sympathy, but the reader's relation to the narrator, who is at turns searingly angry, trenchantly brilliant, clairvoyantly wise (pls. excuse my blurbolexical adjective phrases), is rendered all the more complex by the knowlege that less than six weeks Abbot's release from prison, largely won by the acclaim for this book and by Norman Mailer's action on his behalf, he committed another murder and was sent back to prison, where eventually he put an end to his life. (Credit goes to my partner's bookcase, where I found it....)

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