Saturday, March 10, 2012

'You Got Nothing Coming' by Jimmy Lerner

Publisher: Corgi Books

ISBN: 0-552-14965-9

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.


  1. well, my dear, this is most definitely not my cuppa. but that said you do make it sound very interesting to see another side of life, if you might call it that. thanks for the interesting point of view over it and yes, i would be surprised to be reading it but then probably caught up in the story. given he doesn't even say what he is there for tells me there is not an overly huge amount of attention given to the more gruesome aspects.

    now have you found me yet? i am in a bit of a daze tho settled into my new blog now over on wordpress. rather than have you have to looking on my blogger blog, the address is musings on country living at wordpress dot com. no links to click as i don't want it spammed. it's just the same as they all are. ;) come and visit me soon, i miss all my bloggy friends! xoxoxo

    1. oops did that wrong.... it is musings on country living dot wordpress dot com. xoxoxo ;)

  2. I enjoyed the experience at first but became bored about half way through as it did not really appear to develop, so I did not finish it. My feeling is that he still had hold of his book so he had not reached out to readers.
    Note: I usually finish reading books.

  3. Thanks for the comments!

    Linda, I usually stick to the same genre (fiction), but after reading 'You Got Nothing Coming', I have realised that maybe it's good to step out of my reading comforts zones and read books that I would not normally read.

    Yes I have found your new blog and commented on a few things. It's a shame that you have had so many problems with blogs lately. I hope the blog move will resolve that!

    Aguja, I agree that a couple of times during the novel I felt like my attention wained a little, but I am glad that I finished this book.