I SHOULDA BEEN HOME YESTERDAY by David Harris

I SHOULDA BEEN HOME YESTERDAY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A genial student of human nature, Harris has a wry, low-key sense of humor. In 1969 he was carted off to prison, sentenced to a two-year term for draft resistance. He did 20 months of not especially hard time, first in a minimum-security facility in Arizona, then, following a mini-strike over bad food, in a tougher New Mexico prison. Like the man said, ""I had to rearrange their faces and give them all another name""--which is what Ham's does, taking an absurdist view of prison society, both the cons and the screws. He gives them very colorful names--Jewell, Hot Stuff, Ulysses S. Grant, John Wayne, Wicked Stepmother, Warden Gruff--and mostly spins yarns about life in the slammer the way Bret Harte did about the old mining camps. There's a story about how Sunshine handed Tiny Tim, a mean bastard, a piece of marble fudge cake spiked with eight hits of acid--Tiny Tim almost croaked; another about Lizard who kept a pet toad and exercised it daily on a leash; one about the semiannual crackdown on blow jobs in the Catholic chapel. Not that there isn't a grimmer, more violent undertow. Still, the book is surprisingly mild, without polemics and quite apolitical. ""I grew up believing in high school civics and never did lose my faith,"" says Joan Baez's former husband, a reticent man who confides little about ""Joanie,"" his own role in the Movement, or his views on society in the post-Vietnam era. He does tell you that ""Eventually I fought my fear to a draw"" and once he stopped worrying about parole and Good Time he seems to have gotten along. Folksy and middlin' fair.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Delacorte