Silvano Ceccherini wrote this book while serving a twenty-two year sentence, starting when he was roughly that chronological age, in various Italian prisons: Olgi Valnisi is writing his book which is this book and which is so closely autobiographical that it is difficult to read it on any other terms. Ceccherini-Olgi found that the life of the mind and the soul was the only escape from living ""at the level of a beast in a cage"" and throughout this sentence in all kinds of installations, some better, some worse, taught himself to read and write. His other activities, as they fill the pages here, consist of talking and remembering, or at night of evoking -indulging a fantasy life with women, or at intervals of watching the outside world through a spyglass. Because, even though he has forfeited the present, he refuses to give up ""the promise of a future"" in the world of the living which he affirms throughout here. Olgi writes in an unstudied fashion, in a calm tone of voice which is one of cultivated serenity rather than resignation, and with an insistence on moral-spiritual values. The book won a prize in Italy, had a strong critical endorsement, but for some readers it may also be a kind of penance--one follows it with diligent approval and a kind of distant admiration for what Olgi has achieved.