Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Over the Counter #359
First up is The Maximum Security Book Club: Reading Literature in a Men's Prison Hardcover by Mikita Brottman.
From the publisher, Harper Collins:
"On sabbatical from teaching literature to undergraduates, and wanting to educate a different kind of student, Mikita Brottman starts a book club with a group of convicts from the Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland. She assigns them ten dark, challenging classics—including Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Poe’s story “The Black Cat,” and Nabokov’s Lolita—books that don’t flinch from evoking the isolation of the human struggle, the pain of conflict, and the cost of transgression. Although Brottman is already familiar with these works, the convicts open them up in completely new ways. Their discussions may “only” be about literature, but for the prisoners, everything is at stake.
Gradually, the inmates open up about their lives and families, their disastrous choices, their guilt and loss. Brottman also discovers that life in prison, while monotonous, is never without incident. The book club members struggle with their assigned reading through solitary confinement; on lockdown; in between factory shifts; in the hospital; and in the middle of the chaos of blasting televisions, incessant chatter, and the constant banging of metal doors.
Though The Maximum Security Book Club never loses sight of the moral issues raised in the selected reading, it refuses to back away from the unexpected insights offered by the company of these complex, difficult men. It is a compelling, thoughtful analysis of literature—and prison life—like nothing you’ve ever read before."
The Jolly Roger Social Club : A True Story of a Killer in Paradise by Nick Foster.
From the publisher, Henry Holt:
"he true story of a series of bold killings which took place in a shadowy American ex-pat community in Panama--a tale of greed, political history, and murder
In the remote Bocas del Toro, Panama, William Dathan Holbert, aka "Wild Bill," is awaiting trial for the murder of five fellow American ex-patriots. Holbert's first victims were the Brown family, who lived on a remote island in the area's Darklands. There, Holbert turned their home into the "Jolly Roger Social Club," using drink- and drug-fueled parties to get to know other ex-pats. The club's tagline was: "Over 90% of our members survive." Those odds were not in his victims' favor.
The Jolly Roger Social Club is not just a book about what Holbert did and the complex financial and real estate motives behind the killings; it is about why Bocas del Toro turned out to be his perfect hunting ground, and why the community tolerated-even accepted-him for a time. Told through the fascinating history of the country of Panama, a paradise with sinister ties to the political and economic interests of the United States, journalist Nick Foster brings this uniquely bizarre place to life; shedding light on a community where many live under assumed names, desperate to leave their old lives behind-and sometimes people just disappear."
(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But... I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)