Prison Confidential by Prisoner X
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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Yikes! I just finished Prison Confidential and what a doozy of an ending! I think I took one star away just for the ending as it was shocking.
The book was quite good, detailing prison life. Victor J. Banis, in the introduction says the book was smuggled out of an actual prison. He mentioned this in a recent interview as well, 40 years after the fact, so I am inclined to believe him but I do think several things were altered.
Banis admits names and locations and identifying details were altered for publication, but I think several other things were altered too. All the parts of the book are good, but put together as a whole it comes out uneven.
The book starts off while detailing daily prison life in the mid-1960's and introducing the characters who inhabit the jail. The characters are well fleshed out, although the narrator could allow a few flaws to be shown.
This moves into a long section covering prison violence and retaliation which doesn't really fit the more peaceful tone of the first half of the book. The violence escalates to riots and the explosive ending.
The book was published in 1969 and I feel most of the sex scenes were written to make them more explicit following the recent verdict of that time which allowed this description under law. A few of the scenes still play out as touching and explosions and fusions of togetherness, following the mid-sixties rules, but most get right into it, which was I imagine added afterward for titillation and as a jump on the explicit bandwagon. I think more physique magazines came out in late 1967 and 1968 than in the seven years previous, everyone jumping on the nudity bandwagon.
There's also the issue of how quickly and when someone straight would "go gay" in prison. The narrator seemed to turn pretty quickly, but I don't really understand why everyone isn't gay, so I wasn't sure how believable that aspect was.
I think the story is still relevant for today's audience and was well written, even if not always by "Prisoner X" himself.
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