An often compelling remembrance of incarceration.

GORILLA TANGO

FROM BUSINESSMAN TO CONVICTED FELON AND SURVIVING THE US PRISON SYSTEM

Stelman recounts his time in prison in this debut memoir.

Many people believe that white-collar criminals serve out their sentences in cushy, minimum-security prisons, far away from hardened criminals. Not always, says the author, a Canadian businessman who once owned a digital signage company; his practices landed him in the American penal system: “I live with murderers, drug lords, bank robbers, mobsters, gang members, arsonists, pimps, pedophiles and a sprinkling of white collar criminals like myself.” Stelman recounts his unlikely journey as a respectable Montreal entrepreneur who, after losing his business and moving to the Dominican Republic, became involved in a sweepstakes scam that stole money from elderly people. After learning that his wife was arrested by the FBI in Miami, Stelman attempted to evade capture but ended up in a Santo Domingo jail. This was just the beginning of his time behind bars; after he was extradited to the United States, he spent more than five years in the federal prison system, including 14 months in one of the nation’s most secure Supermax detention centers while awaiting trial in New York state. Stelman describes his crimes, capture, trial process, and prison time in great detail. Along the way, he tells of his in-prison businesses and his relationships with family waiting on the outside. He discusses his daily life with frankness and efficiency in the present tense. Particularly intriguing are his descriptions of prisoner-enforced systems of trade and justice within the penal system. Here, for example, he recounts an economy that was based on packets of mackerel: “They are the compound currency. Anything you buy or sell gets settled with fish. Guys gamble for fish, clean cells, shoes and wash dishes for fish. They buy dope or hooch with fish. Some buy sex for fish and a lot of chomos (child molesters) get extorted or robbed for fish.” Overall, Stelman’s narrative is a perfect fish-out-of-water view of the American prison system, made more entertaining by the fact that he proved to be a capable and wily navigator of it.

An often compelling remembrance of incarceration.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-9994504-1-0

Page Count: 342

Publisher: Fourth Quarter Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

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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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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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