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Prison Noir by Joyce Carol Oates

Prison Noir

by Joyce Carol Oates (Editor)

Other authors: Eric Boyd (Contributor), Kenneth R. Brydon (Contributor), Zeke Caligiuri (Contributor), BM Dolarman (Contributor), Stephen Geez (Contributor)10 more, Scott Gutches (Contributor), Linda Michelle Marquardt (Contributor), Brian K. Palmer (Contributor), Timothy Pauley (Contributor), William van Poyck (Contributor), Ali F. Sareini (Contributor), Sin Soracco (Contributor), Christopher M. Stephen (Contributor), Marco Verdoni (Contributor), Andre White (Contributor)

Series: Akashic Books Noir Series

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5314344,417 (4.07)3
"These are stories that resonate with authenticity and verve and pain and truth."



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» See also 3 mentions

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I have read several of these Noir books and I love them. All credit to my friend and author Curt Colbert who introduced me to the series when he was editing and writing a story for “Seattle Noir.” We spent a whole evening at a Seahawks game discussing the series and from there, I was hooked.
This is the fourth or fifth Noir book I have read and reviewed.

While many of the books in the series focus on a city, this one focuses on a community. Prisons are very much like a small town with all of the scandal, personalities and intrigues. The backdrop can be quite tragic but there can also be a lot of humor in the day to day that help people cope.

Each of the stories is written by a prisoner, male or female, in a correctional institution. Some are in Federal prisons and some are in state prisons. The amount of time that they are doing varies from a number of years to life. Many have included their former incarnations as white collar workers, tv producers, wives, fathers and career criminals.

The book is divided into three sections: Ghosts in the Machine, Caged Birds Sing and I Saw the Whole Thing, It was Horrible. There are five stories within each of these sections.

From Section One, my favorites are as follows: “Shuffle” which speaks to the prison experience of living in segregation; “Bardos” which is a clever depiction of the day to day routine; and “A Message in the Breath of Allah” which is a meditation on death.

In section Two I was partial to: “Foxhole” which was about the personalities that populate a prison as well as being from the perspective of a Native American and “Immigrant Song” which was about a young Mexican man who did not understand the situation in which he had found himself. The rest of the stories are strong too, these were just my favorites.

Section Three favorites were: “Angel Eyes” which is about the hardening a person can experience. The brutalization that can occur as a person loses hope; “How EBay Nearly Killed Gary Bridgway” which is a very thinly veiled story about serial killer Gary Ridgeway; and 3 Block from Hell” which I am not telling you anything about it because it would ruin the whole story.

These Noir books are some of the best edited anthologies I have had the pleasure to read. This one is no exception. Five stars. You will not be disappointed. ( )
  ozzie65 | Jan 9, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
PRISON NOIR, edited by Joyce Carol Oates, is yet another extremely fine addition to the growing collection of Noir titles by Akashi Books. While these may not have been the most distinguished writings I have ever read, the reality of the incarceration shines through in each tale.
I especially enjoyed the religious message within “A message in the Breath of Allah” which counterpoised nicely with “Gary Bridgway.” Be it dealing with being locked up, solitary confinement, cellmates or the prison yard, each of these stories reflect the grit within the walls.
I won this book through LibraryThing. ( )
  TomDonaghey | Aug 30, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Usually the Akashic books tap known writers together with some newcomers when creating these volumes. This time, acknowledging that any prisoner knows more about prison than even the best author (the few that had served sentences notwithstanding), they decided to accept submissions from people that are actually incarcerated (and there are writing programs in a lot of prisons anyway). From all the submissions, the editor Joyce Carol Oates chose and edited 15 - and they form this newest entry in the long running series.

And as expected, prison does shine through. These are not always the polished stories that some of the big authors can pull out. And some of them are naive or even stupid in moments (what the editor saw in some is beyond me but then everyone has their own taste after all). But the overall impression is pretty positive - the stories show a span of life that most people had seen only in TV shows and movies - and it is easy to see how Akashic may even decide to go for a second volume.

And as always - read the introduction only after you read the stories... ( )
  AnnieMod | Mar 16, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I have often said that I could see sitting in prison, being able to just relax and read books for a while.
This book has changed my mind about that. Some of these stories have you feeling sorry for the individual, some have you hating the individual, but all are extremely well-written and are a little that surprised me a little.
You have images of men and women in prison who are probably not well educated or well written. Untrue according to these stories.
This book is filled with draw-you-in stories and some even leave you wanting to know the outcome for these prisoners.
This was very well done and edited perfectly by the great Joyce Carol Oates. ( )
  JReynolds1959 | Dec 21, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The first word to come to mind while reading Prison Noir is "honest." That's not to say that these stories are true or even autobiographical fiction, but there is a sincerity running through these stories that transcends talent and/or style.

These are prison stories written by prisoners(one of whom has since been executed) and they are not all the greatest writers (although "Bardos" and "A Message in the Breath of Allah" are among the best in the entire Akashic Noir series), but every one of these stories is engaging and entertaining in its own way. ( )
  Tucker.Christine | Oct 7, 2014 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Oates, Joyce CarolEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boyd, EricContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brydon, Kenneth R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Caligiuri, ZekeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dolarman, BMContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Geez, StephenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gutches, ScottContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marquardt, Linda MichelleContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Palmer, Brian K.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pauley, TimothyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Poyck, William vanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sareini, Ali F.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Soracco, SinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stephen, Christopher M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Verdoni, MarcoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
White, AndreContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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