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Synopsis

Stephen Reid has grown old in prison and seen more than his share of its solitude, its vicious cycles, and its subculture relationships. He has participated in the economics of contraband, the incredible escapes, the intimacies of torture, the miscarriages of justice, and witnessed the innocent souls whose childhood destinies doomed them to prison life. He has learned that everything is bearable, that the painful separation of family, children, and friend is tolerable, and that sorrow must be kept close, buried in a secret garden of the self, if one is to survive and give others who love you hope. Within his writing runs the motif that his prison life has never been far from his drug additions, but the junkie or drunk who has some straight time and means to stay that way knows a lot about the way we really live, think, feel, hope, and desire in this country. Each of the essays in this collection is a recognition of how Reid’s imprisonment has shaped his life. Some describe his fractured boyhood and the escalation in crimes that led to his imprisonment, others detail the seductive rush and notoriety of the criminal life. There are the regrets too of how his choices have impacted the lives of his daughters, wife and family. But in each essay the refrain is “prison life”, whether it is measuring the integrity of the books in the prison library, the violence and primal intimidation inherent in all-male communities, or the torment and solace of solitary confinement.

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