A Tale of Two Tales

Here’s the deal – a chunk of The Hanlin Series was written in prison. No, prisons – ten in five states over four and one half years. 

Wesleyan University, Dante, and MeMost readers know this, I’ve told a few, it’s mentioned – albeit somewhat obliquely – on my ‘About Me‘ page, a few other places . . . then there is the video I did last week.

Every once in a while I’ll publish something that has to do with criminal justice that may come across as inside baseball – if one is looking for it

What I most certainly have not done is link the novels with the non-fiction aside from coming up with Forlorn Hope’s slogan – “Great fiction written in decidedly non-fiction settings, great non-fiction written in fictional surroundings.” Until now.

All it took was Piper Kerman, Tony Horwitz, three NY Times reporters, Dominic Streatfeild, the White House Historian for the Carter Administration, Rich Slotkin, a theatre director at Wesleyan, a few dozen readers, friends, relatives, lawyers . . . more, to (finally) convince me. Everybody likes the novel, everyone likes my writing, everyone wants me to write about prison. Once I relate one story they’re hooked and I’m off on a mini-prison excursion.

The professional writers see it as a hot topic, a way to make money and create interest in the fiction. Piper Kerman is “fascinated by the men’s side of it all” and feels that anyone who can write well owes it to society to do so and expose the all around ugliness. The proliferation of prison/judicial system centered blogs, web sites, Tumblr, Tweeter, FaceBook pages – hell, Pinterest for all I know, have also reinforced it all.

Not to mention John Oliver’s 17 minute creed against the prison-industrial complex starring the former (read: my) warden of Ft. Dix now the head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons . . . the pitch perfect illustration of the almost forgotten Peter Principle.

So, I’m in. I’m taking the advice and running with it because there is so much more to it than John Oliver could come close to in 17 hours and Orange is the New Black is a good show, but comes close to the real thing about once or twice an hour.

Ten prisons, five states, 30 cells, one 7 week stay in the SHU, 7 dorms. 853 miles, over four and a half years. Lawyer guy, Bird, R0-dog, Hate Monger, Red, Professor, probably a half-dozen more nicknames. Six fights . . . 5-0-1. And a few thousand stories because everyone – inmates and staff alike – liked to unburden themselves to the lawyer guy.

3 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Tales

  1. Pingback: A Litigator, A Psychotic Kitchen Supervisor, and A Memoir | rrhicks

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