Monday, January 24, 2011

in the Belly of the Beast

Yes, I've read another prison book. I buy 'em real cheap off of Amazon - used books. This one was written by Jack Henry Abbott.
1965 - At the age of twenty-one, Jack Abbott was serving a sentence for forgery in a Utah prison when he stabbed a fellow inmate to death. He was given a sentence of three to twenty years for this offense.
1971 - His sentence was increased by a further nineteen years after he escaped and committed a bank robbery in Colorado. Behind bars he was troublesome and often refused to obey guards' orders. He spent a great deal of time in solitary confinement.
It was Abbott's good fortune that the federal prison had a library. He began to read everything he could get his hands on, especially the works of the classic philosophers. "Nine-tenths of my vocabulary, I have never heard spoken,"

1977 - He read that author Norman Mailer was writing about convicted killer Gary Gilmore. Abbott wrote to Mailer and offered to write about his time behind bars and the conditions he was experiencing. Mailer agreed and helped to publish In the Belly of the Beast, a book on life in the prison system consisting of Abbott's letters to Mailer. Mailer received over 2,000 letters from Abbott. He described them as the most intense, direct, unadorned and detached letters he had ever read.
"How I wish this would end! How I wish I could walk free in the world, could find my life again and see and do things other people do."

So the book basically ends here. Just facinating how his writings are just amazing for someone who didn't get past the 6th grade. I start wondering whatever happened to Abbott so I do a Goggle search...
1980 - After Abbott’s widely publicised book was launched there was a campaign, initiated by Mailer and supported by leading Hollywood writers and actors, for Abbott’s release on parole. Susan Sarandon named her son, Jack Henry, after him.
Abbott was released on parole in June 1980. He went to New York City and was the toast of the literary scene for a short while. On the morning of July 18, just six weeks after getting out of prison, Jack Abbott went to a small cafe called the Binibon in Manhattan. He clashed with 22-year-old Richard Adan, son-in-law of the restaurant's owner, over Adan's telling him the restroom was for staff only. The short-tempered Abbott stabbed Adan in the chest, killing him. The very next day, unaware of Abbott's crime, the New York Times ran a positive review of
The Belly of the Beast.
1982 - He was convicted of manslaughter and given fifteen years to life. Apart from the advance fee of $12,500, Abbott did not receive any profits from The Belly of the Beast, as Richard Adan's widow successfully sued him for $7.5 million in damages, which meant she received all the money from the book's sales.
2001 - He appeared before the parole board, but his application was turned down because of his failure to express remorse and his lengthy criminal record and disciplinary problems in prison.
2002 - On February 10, 2002, Jack Abbott hanged himself in his prison cell using a makeshift noose constructed from his bedsheets and shoelaces. He left a suicide note, whose contents have not been made public.


Farmgirl_dk: said...

There's not a single part of this story that doesn't make me sad.
(Are you sure this is the best kind of stuff for you to be reading right now?) ((hug))

Nancy K. said...

Not exactly uplifting reading!


AJ-OAKS said...

Hmmmm. He had a second chance to make the right choices and he did not. He is solely responsible.
Are you sure you should be reading anymore prison books? How about a good comedy?!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Sometimes I get into a reading obsession, too. I read all the stuff that people 'tsk tsk'. I read and read until I'm satiated, and then I move on.
This genre must be very facinating for you. Just remember that every person's journey is their own....


A blog by the "Farmer" said...

Abbott sounds like a tortured soul, eh? Sounds like a book I would read, too.

I wonder what thoughts/reasons were behind such horrible crimes.

Thanks for sharing!