Publisher: Corgi Books
Length: 413 Pages
What the 'blurb' says:
'You are convicts. Your job here is to lie, cheat, steal, extort, get tattoos, take drugs, sell drugs, shank and sock each other. Just don't let us catch you- that's our job. We catch you, you got nothing' coming.'
It's your worst nightmare, You wake up in an eight-by-ten-foot steel cell designated 'Suicide Watch #3.' The cell is real, Jimmy Lerner, former family man and corporate strategic planner, has become a prison 'fish', or green new arrival. Taken to a penitentiary in the Nevada desert to serve a twelve- year sentence for voluntary manslaughter, this previously nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn ends up sharing a claustrophobic cell with Kansas, a hugely muscled skinhead with a swastika tattooed on his neck and a serious set of issues.
'You Got Nothing Coming' takes us into the corrupt world of the American prison system and, with brash, dark humour, tells us how the teachniques learnt in management seminars helped Lerner survive this brutal environment. It is a book and an experience you will never forget.'
Opening Line: 'The prison shrink thinks I should talk about why I killed the Monster.'
What's good about this novel?
Even though this is the sort of book that I would never have thought of reading, there are many good elements to this novel. Whilst graphic in both content and language, I think that 'You Got Nothing Coming' is well written and even funny in places. It's a fascinating insight into how the prison's systems and sub systems, are created by both the prison officials and inmates alike.
This isn't an easy read, but I sailed through this novel, because Lerner's tone is engaging and interesting. By writing this novel he isn't excusing any of his behaviour and, up until 3/4 of the way through the book, he does not even mention his crime. This is mainly an insight into his experiences whilst in prison.
What's wrong with this novel?
If I had to make a criticism about this novel, I would say that at times the writing is so well formed, it's as if Lerner is either writing from the perspective of an uncover investigative reporter, or even writing a fiction novel. I felt Lerner was the observer, rather than the inmate. What helped this though, was that 3/4 of the way through the novel, does go on to write an account of events, leading up to the time of his incarceration thus bringing the book back to his own life story.
Is this worth a read?
This is a book I wouldn't normally read, but I really enjoyed (possibly not the right choice of word for this type of book!) it. 'You Got Nothing Coming' is graphic both in detail and language, but everything is justified within the context of the book. If you're easily offended however, this book may not be for you. If you want to read an insightful and fascinating insight into an element of life that (hopefully) none of us will ever see, then this could be for you.