An intriguing, if sometimes-garish, account of the lives of troubled sex workers.

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GOOD GIRLS ON BAD DRUGS

ADDICTION NONFICTION IN A REVISED EDITION

Braunstein (Microgreen Garden, 2013, etc.) collects the life stories of several young, female addicts in this nonfiction work.

For more than a quarter-century, the author lived at the end of a secluded road outside the port city of New London, Connecticut. Sex workers and their clients would frequently use the road as a place to transact their business. They would deposit beer cans and condoms on the roadside, which Braunstein would clean up. “After ten years of collecting the sex workers’ trash, I began collecting their stories,” he writes in the introduction to this book, which profiles 22 such workers in the New London, Norwich, and Willimantic areas, which included two large casinos—Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. These women were habitual users of hard drugs, including crack and heroin, and had turned to sex work to fund their habits. The lifestyle exposed them to dangers of all kinds, from violence to disease to incarceration, and for some, it ended in premature death. One woman, Linda, was born to a well-off family—her mother was a former beauty queen and her father raised horses—but a crack addiction led to a very different life. Another was a teenage runaway and heroin addict whose fatal overdose at age 17 led to the discovery of the motel-based brothel where she had worked. One crack addict not only robbed clients but also banks, including several during a six-day spree in three states. A law-school graduate and cocaine addict passed the bar exam but couldn’t get a jurist license due to her criminal past; after she turned to sex work, she was killed by one of her customers and left naked in the street. Braunstein’s accounts are based on interviews that he conducted with the subjects or, in the case of the deceased, people who knew them. The text mixes quotes from these first-person accounts with the author’s own reportage. Throughout, the stylized prose is full of dramatic turns of phrase. At times, though, the self-conscious presentation can feel a little too performative: “Knowing their numbed days were numbered, they held back their tears and recounted their life stories as though dictating their last testaments….Their stories are an oral history of a moral mystery.” The stories themselves, though, are often engaging and tragic, and the best make the most of the subjects’ own words. Some speak with a remarkable, epigraphic honesty: “I hated it,” says Linda of streetwalking. “It’s horrible. It’s degrading. But it was easy to do because it wasn’t like having sex. It was more like cleaning toilets.” At times, the work feels a bit exploitative, devoting much more attention to the lurid details of the subjects’ fates, for example, than on the larger systems in which they live. Even so, the act of giving voices to voiceless figures in society is an admirable one, and the book does effectively call attention to the impact of addiction in one corner of New England.

An intriguing, if sometimes-garish, account of the lives of troubled sex workers.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9635663-4-8

Page Count: 251

Publisher: Panacea Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

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The author brings the case for judicial redress before the court of public opinion.

LICENSED TO LIE

EXPOSING CORRUPTION IN THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

A former Justice Department lawyer, who now devotes her private practice to federal appeals, dissects some of the most politically contentious prosecutions of the last 15 years.

Powell assembles a stunning argument for the old adage, “nothing succeeds like failure,” as she traces the careers of a group of prosecutors who were part of the Enron Task Force. The Supreme Court overturned their most dramatic court victories, and some were even accused of systematic prosecutorial misconduct. Yet former task force members such as Kathryn Ruemmler, Matthew Friedrich and Andrew Weissman continued to climb upward through the ranks and currently hold high positions in the Justice Department, FBI and even the White House. Powell took up the appeal of a Merrill Lynch employee who was convicted in one of the subsidiary Enron cases, fighting for six years to clear his name. The pattern of abuse she found was repeated in other cases brought by the task force. Prosecutors of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen pieced together parts of different statutes to concoct a crime and eliminated criminal intent from the jury instructions, which required the Supreme Court to reverse the Andersen conviction 9-0; the company was forcibly closed with the loss of 85,000 jobs. In the corruption trial of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, a key witness was intimidated into presenting false testimony, and as in the Merrill Lynch case, the prosecutors concealed exculpatory evidence from the defense, a violation of due process under the Supreme court’s 1963 Brady v. Maryland decision. Stevens’ conviction, which led to a narrow loss in his 2008 re-election campaign and impacted the majority makeup of the Senate, seems to have been the straw that broke the camel's back; the presiding judge appointed a special prosecutor to investigate abuses. Confronted with the need to clean house as he came into office, writes Powell, Attorney General Eric Holder has yet to take action.

The author brings the case for judicial redress before the court of public opinion.

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61254-149-5

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Brown Books

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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IN COLD BLOOD

"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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