This novel opened my eyes a little wider. Avi Steinberg has given us a narrative from the other side of life, willingly, the tale of a librarian in a prison. He meets all types of people, both male and female, and
their worlds collide. I am just going to give you a little taste of what is
said on the back cover: ”Running The Books is a trenchant personal exploration
of prison culture and an entertaining tale of one young man’s earnest attempt
to find his place in the world while trying not to get fired in the process.”
The novel was a mix of so many different emotions: love, violence, redemption, camaraderie. Steinberg doesn’t miss much in the way of description and portrays the gritty no nonsense feel of what it is like to be
behind bars, on both sides. One of the cons makes the comment late in the book:
“now you know what it is like to see me behind bars.” It is a very unsettling
picture, as the character was only seen from that point by our librarian in the
library, being polite, helpful, to the point where he was described as not
being able to injure a paperback.
Running the Books is not the average prison novel. The viewpoint and narrative are interesting and intense. The thought process used by our librarian is an added bonus as it doesn’t come from one of the convicts.
He sees them and their surroundings in a different light, a different way, and
that gives them that sliver of hope they were looking for but hadn’t received.
The novel itself is moving, driven and difficult to put down, I was happy to
have a chance to read it. Shake up your schedule a little bit; go into solitary
confinement with this and come out better on the side, having been the prisoner
of a good novel.
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