Publishers WeeklyStarred Review.
In this memoir, a magnificent inquiry into the human condition, a man serving a life sentence in the California prison system documents the brutality and inhumanity of life "inside," where criminals are victimized rather than rehabilitated, and chaos flowers among the despairing. Hartman, an eloquent, middle-aged prisoner convicted of murder at 19, tells a sad but unsentimental story: a rough childhood and a wish for invincibility fueled Hartman's youth and downfall, but in the time since, he has married in prison, fathered a child, and currently works to improve the broken U.S. prison system. Hartman discovered his talent in a writing class, after having abandoned drugs; using it, he examines up close the "mad, violent circus" of prison life, his place in it, and the fate of his fellow prisoners: "Under the big tent of this brutally unnatural environment, few of us ever take the frightening step of analyzing our deeper motives."
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