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The Graybar Hotel StoriesIlk 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 socie. There are already a few excellent reviews listed here so I won't beat a dead horse I will say that I was completely drawn to The Graybar Hotel after learning that the author Curtis Dawkins himself is serving a life in prison sentence currently in Michigan Each of the stories individually gave the reader an often light depiction of the daily ongoings of what prison life is and can be like And yet collectively they read as well as if not better than any other short stories An easy read and a page turner

Characters The Graybar Hotel: Stories

Free read Ù The Graybar Hotel: Stories 100 ↠ 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 existenceIn Curtis Dawkins’s fIn 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 existenceIn 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. This collection of short stories reads like non fiction and I mean that in the best possible way Curtis Dawkins tells stories of prison life something he is intimately acuainted with as he is serving a life sentence for a robbery gone wrong that is such a weird phrase by the way as if a robbery can ever go right As such he tells stories that feel true and believable while at the same time being well written and polished Save a few stories that have elements of magical realism the majority of this book gives snapshots of people situations moments of life totally different from life outside of prison There is an underlying sadness here that is always tempered with acceptance that this will be the rest of the protagonists' lives The characters are all guilty of their crimes and they know it They have to adapt to the rules of prison life and find whatever solace they can; or even something to do What struck me most was the sense of total and utter boredom of days that are much like the days before and the days coming afterwards Still there is always small change new bunkmates new rules new stories to be listened to The stories made me so sad This sense of the inevitablity of live in prison of wasted opportunities and of stupid decisions made the collection a very melancholy read for me I could not divorce the author from his work his stories were so believable that I could not help but wonder how much of the stories' sadness is his sadness his regret A very impressive collectionI received an arc of this book curtesy of NetGalley and Scribner in exchange for an honest review Thanks for that

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“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 uemada” an inmate is released and finds freedom 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 m. 35 My attention was drawn to The Graybar Hotel the debut story collection by Curtis Dawkins because the author is a convicted murderer serving a life sentence in a Michigan prison You can read about his background in this Guardian article These 14 short stories are all set at least partially in prison and feature men learning how to live with the conseuences of their mistakes and how to fill long empty days They perfect their amateur tattooing skills write raps or carve soap figures; they watch TV or make collect calls to random numbers There’s a kind of make do attitude in the air as well as the idea that you can reinvent yourself – starting with your past But of course there are also destructive forces around with drugs suicide and violent revenge always lurking in the backgroundPerhaps of necessity the collection is rather homogeneous For instance all but two stories are in the first person with the typical narrator an observer who recounts other prisoners’ dreams and desperate actions but reveals little or nothing about himself My favorite stories are those that also look backward andor forward to show the protagonist’s life before and after prison rather than just dwelling on daily life in the pen In one stand out “Leche uemada” Clyde is released after 12 years and tries to slip back into life with Melissa but finds that – like the boiled milk candies his Hispanic cellmates made and he always coveted – what you’ve been waiting for all this time might not be all that you hope for My overall favorite is “Engulfed” in which Steven who admitted selling phony security systems after he fell for a set designer calls his roommate out for lies about his past Fire as a destructive yet cleansing force that reveals the truth is a potent symbol here as well as in “Six Pictures of a Fire at Night”All proceeds from the book go into an education fund for Dawkins’s childrenOriginally published on my blog Bookish Beck