An often compelling remembrance of incarceration.



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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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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