Words Without Walls: Writers on Addiction, Violence, and Incarceration

Edited by Sarah Shotland and Sheryl St. Germain. Trinity Univ., $19.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-59534-255-3
Sit down, turn off the phone, and prepare for a stunning, if difficult, read. The editors of this anthology run creative writing workshops for recovering addicts and prisoners, and they intend the book as a teaching tool. Not surprisingly, the entries explore the darkest places that humans inhabit, both physically and mentally. Structurally, the book is separated into four literary categories: nonfiction, poetry, fiction, and drama. Emotionally, it runs the gamut, from the hopelessness R. Dwayne Betts describes feeling, in his essay "Thirty Minutes," as he is escorted out of court to jail—"twelve million black voices crying out to a juvenile court judge for mercy"—to profound regret in Gwendolyn Brooks's poem "The Mother," a mother's message to her unborn children. Readers will recognize many contributors, especially in the Fiction section, which includes excerpts from the works of authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Tim O'Brien, Anna Quindlen, and Sapphire. The nonfiction entries that begin the book will most capture readers' attention and haunt them in the days after reading. Reading this book is to read the most intimate, often horrifying, stories that humans can survive to tell, dragging "into the light what eats at [us]." (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/23/2015
Release date: 02/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 66 pages - 978-1-59534-773-2
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