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Connecting curious minds with uncommon, undeniably Northwest reads

The Funhouse Mirror

Reflections on Prison

Robert Ellis Gordon

Inmates of the Washington Corrections System

$16.95

Robert Ellis Gordon’s account of teaching writing in Washington prisons is aided by essays and stories contributed by the prisoners themselves. Together, Gordon and his students provide revealing glimpses of this vast, secret-laden subculture of incarcerated individuals, which nationwide comprises more than two million U.S. citizens.

“Searing…memorable and gripping.”—Kirkus Reviews

“An unvarnished examination of a prison culture.”—Boston Globe

2001 Washington State Book Award
Spring 2007 Washington Reads Selection, Washington State Library

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SKU: 978-0-87422-198-5 Categories: , , ,

Description

“Prisons are hard places to get into and harder to get out of,” writes Robert Ellis Gordon as he takes you on a remarkable eight-year journey into the Washington State corrections system.

As a writing teacher, Gordon had the unique experience of gaining access to the darkest realms of Washington prisons while remaining free to walk away from penitentiary confines at the end of the day. His account is aided by essays and stories contributed by six extraordinary prison students—works that give this book an unforgettable edge. Together, Gordon and his students provide revealing glimpses of this vast secret-laden subculture of incarcerated individuals, which nationwide comprises more than two million U.S. citizens.

Here is a gallery of portraits of prison life, from the female guard who tantalizes male inmates with her sexuality to the terrified young fish trying to stave off other prisoners. These stories are jarring, harsh, compelling. The Funhouse Mirror, which combines extraordinary story material with fine writing, provides us with an inside look at the prison system we often ignore, yet only at society’s peril. This uncommon book is a significant addition to the literature on American penitentiaries. It is destined to help alter the terms of the debate about one of the great national problems of our time.

132 pages (2000)

Recognition

2001 Washington State Book Award
Spring 2007 Washington Reads Selection, Washington State Library

“Searing…memorable and gripping.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A powerful account of what it was like to be a teacher behind bars.”—Boston Globe

“An unvarnished examination of a prison culture.”—Boston Globe

 Robert Ellis Gordon taught writing in Washington State prisons from 1989 until 1997. He is the author of the award-winning novel, When Bobby Kennedy Was a Moving Man.

“[Gordon’s] passionate observations and his students’ uncanny stories provide a powerful statement about the horrors of life behind bars.”—Publishers Weekly

“What sneaks up on us it the character of Robert Gordon. The author’s sustained act of charity, his years’ long act of hope, is as striking as the honesty and bravery behind his report.”—Barry Lopez, National Book Award Winner

“Singular, …passionate, … important and true…This book ought to deepen and dignify the discussion about the function of prisons in our criminal justice system.”—The Bookmonger, Barbara Lloyd McMichael

“I would give this book two thumbs up, and if I had thumbs on my feet, it would be four thumbs up. It’s a well done and much needed book.”—Richard Shelton, author of Going Back to Bisbee

 

Additional information

Weight .50 oz
Dimensions 9 x 6 in
Format

Paperback