DOING TIME

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF PRISON WRITING FROM PEN

This anthology of material by winners of PEN America’s annual prison writing contests provides a polyphonic chorus of rejoinder to our policies of maximum incarceration. The collection’s prose is honed and direct, with many contributors striking a hypnotic balance between the urgency inherent in writing as survival and the punishingly absurd nature of their circumstances: though their literary imaginations range widely, bodily, they—re going no place. Most at issue is the individual reader’s openness toward otherwise shunned figures. Several pieces are from longtime death-row inmates, presenting lucid, provocative narratives that don—t excuse their youthful brutality. A thick sheaf of entries represent the hapless POWs of the Drug War (often disadvantaged women), serving long sentences for semantic and violence-free crimes. The distribution of fiction, poetry, and essays into 11 topical sections (e.g. “Players, Games—) allows a textured diversity of excellent pieces, such as Paul Mulryan’s scorching account of the 11-day Lucasville, Ohio, riot; Jimmy Santiago Baca’s poetic reach toward lost family; Dax Xenos’s O. Henry-winning fiction, “Death of a Duke—; and Robert Moriarty’s droll, harrowing memoir, “Pilots in the War on Drugs.” Introductory essays by Dead Man Walking author Sister Helen Prejean and SUNY Purchase professor emeritus Chevigny provide a moral chassis; the latter’s piece charts the prison writing movement as a response to the fluctuations of penal theory between reform and retribution, offering a chilling vision of our current maximum-time, hard-labor model as a machine of social control, devouring ever more persons of color and of the underclass even as the crime rate declines. Essential reading for those concerned by this imbalance—and it should be more than essential for lawmakers and citizens who support the hard bargain of liberty for order without considering the darkness created.

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-55970-478-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1999

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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