The Graybar Hotel

The Graybar Hotel


Book - 2017
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"In this stunning debut collection, Curtis Dawkins, an MFA graduate and convicted murderer serving life without parole, takes us inside the worlds of prison and prisoners with stories that dazzle with their humor and insight, even as they describe a harsh and barren existence. In Curtis Dawkins's first short story collection, he offers a window into prison life through the eyes of his narrators and their cellmates. Dawkins reveals the idiosyncrasies, tedium, and desperation of long-term incarceration--he describes men who struggle to keep their souls alive despite the challenges they face. In "A Human Number," a man spends his days collect-calling strangers just to hear the sounds of the outside world. In "573543," an inmate recalls his descent into addiction as his prison softball team gears up for an annual tournament against another unit. In "Leche Quemada," an inmate is released and finds freedom more complex and baffling then he expected. Dawkins's stories are funny and sad, filled with unforgettable detail--the barter system based on calligraphy-ink tattoos, handmade cards, and cigarettes; a single dandelion smuggled in from the rec yard; candy made from powdered milk, water, sugar, and hot sauce. His characters are nuanced and sympathetic, despite their obvious flaws. The Graybar Hotel tells moving, human stories about men enduring impossible circumstances. Dawkins takes readers beyond the cells into characters' pasts and memories and desires, into the unusual bonds that form during incarceration and the strained relationships with family members on the outside. He's an extraordinary writer with a knack for metaphor, and this is a powerful compilation of stories that gives voice to the experience of perhaps the most overlooked members of our society"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : Scribner, 2017
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781501162299
Branch Call Number: F DAWKI-C
Characteristics: 210 pages ; 22 cm


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Manateestarz Aug 28, 2017

A wonderfully written book of short stories about life in prison. A really, really good book full of humor, sadness, sharp observations and unforgettable characters. I never doubted for a moment that the characters Italian Tom, Depakote Mo and Crash were real people. There are some really beautifully written stories, so it is hard to pick my favorites. But, I really loved Engulfed, about a compulsive liar in prison who finally get his due and Leche Quemada, about a man's first days out of prison, which are quite different than he expected.

Jul 26, 2017

Well enough written and not the horribly violent tales that TV and movies present. Dawkings speaks as a member of the inside and knowing this helps the reader connect to the stories. If his stories were too sensational one might resent his inmate status for being so bold and ostentatious. Instead he tells tales of the everyday prison occurrences - some awful, some lonely, some matter of fact. One is seldom given the opportunity to read works by an author in prison.


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