IN THE LIFE: Versions of the Criminal Experience by Bruce Jackson

IN THE LIFE: Versions of the Criminal Experience

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Undoctored transcripts of the criminal life in the raw, lowdown language of longtime denizens of the underworld. Bank robbers, thieves, swindlers, pimps, hustlers, con men, whores and pushers talking about their world on the streets and in the pen. This is Jackson's third book on the ethos of prisons (A Thief's Primer and Wake Up Dead Man); here he deliberately avoids white-collar ""squares"" nabbed for juggling the books, big shot Mafiosi, middle-class longhairs up for drugs, and Black Panthers and other politically conscious convicts. Those who appear -- Big Sal and Bebop and Nick McMurphy -- are the common run of certified losers, self-identified criminals with no illusions of going straight. Most are repeaters up on multiple charges; some are in for life. They talk about the things they know best: heisting a getaway car, turning a trick, shooting up, ripping-off the Man, bribing the fuzz, smuggling ""stuff"" into the cell block, evading the guards, jostling the other inmates -- hurting, hustling, surviving. Jackson admits to an unavoidable ""bias toward the articulate"" but even so the raps are disjointed, strung out, bleary, and benumbed. The overall impressions is one of enormous waste and ceaseless scuffling for lower depths status: ""It's just a fucking dog-eat-dog. That's all this kind of life is."" And that's all the book is -- a tape recorder tuned in to human wreckage. No thesis but of obvious sociological and cinema verite interest.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1972
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston