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The prison life of Harris Filmore by Jack…

The prison life of Harris Filmore

by Jack Richardson

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First published in Britain in 1961, The Prison Life of Harris Filmore reflects the censorship of its day. The lovers of prison lore die together doomed by their own desire. The subtext can be heavy-handed as Filmore finds himself in the rigor and rule of prison life. In prison, Filmore's actions allow him to break from his shell and develop close bonds with his cellmates and a small circle of friends. Ironically he experiences a feeling of community that he could not find outside of prison.

The book includes a number of distracting elements. The author periodically includes a number of strangely worded phrases, such as "the garments of winter ecdysized [sic]," "reticulated swamp," and "propitiate calves." It is as if the author was compelled to add a word of the day to the text. (to add socially redeeming value?) ( )
  MichaelC.Oliveira | Mar 13, 2018 |
This is a light and breezy social satire, written in the early 1960s. As the book begins, Harris Filmore, a New York City bank president in a loveless marriage, used to his place in society and to the comforts and privileges his status brings him, is under indictment for illegally moving money around on his institution's books. While we are to understand that he did this for the most benign of reasons, and not for personal profit, the law is the law. Given the book's title, it comes as no surprise when friend Filmore gets 10 years in a New Jersey federal pen. It is the ease with which our hero fits into prison life that brings the surprise.

This book is a fun comedy, which delivers its philosophy with a wink. You might think of it as Thurber-light. The benign nature of prison life here portrayed is certainly not to be taken seriously, save as a commentary on the uncertainty of life on the "outside," and as a send up of humankind's search for meaning and order.

There is a sympathetically rendered homosexual relationship, evidently platonic, described, which was, I'd guess rather unusual for a "mainstream" novel in the early 60s. But I wouldn't call this gay literature, despite the many LT tags to that effect. All in the eyes of the beholder, certainly. ( )
  rocketjk | Oct 22, 2014 |
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The sun sent its bright feelers, on that July morning, boldly through a labyrinth of leaves and branches, and ended by producing a mottled mosaic on the outside dining area.
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