Most of you won’t have the benefit of reading the cover letter that first-readers receive, which made me laugh out loud. This man has a gift for writing, and has the potential to be really hilarious. In places, his book is funny, in a dark way. But life has taken the spring out of his step.
He’s been to prison, and he emerged broke, without a license or a home. He had earned a college degree before being incarcerated, but now because his name was tarnished, it is virtually worthless, since he has to get a job under an assumed name. And he has to register as a sex-offender.
I got this from the Goodreads.com giveaway, and it initially gave me serious pause–and gentlemen out there, this is almost reflexive for most women–to see the man say that he was a convicted rapist who had pleaded nole contendre…and I had given him my address. Yes, that’s irrational. But “rape” is a really electrifying term to most of us.
Once I had read the book (and it’s a quick read, partly because I couldn’t put it down till I had the whole story, especially once I had peeked at the ending and come to believe in the guy’s innocence after all) I just wanted to cry for the man. He isn’t a rapist. He was clueless and in a relationship with a really unstable woman, unless he’s made parts of his story up wholesale…and I don’t think he has.
The fact is, the U.S. “justice” system isn’t much of one. More and more often, it serves to isolate and undercut a layer of young men and make them lesser citizens when they emerge, assuming they ever do. And whereas Segundo should have fought the charges against him, he was so physically ill,alienated and demoralized that he didn’t. Where was his family? Did they turn their backs on him, or did he slink away, afraid that they would be ashamed of him?
And I need to say this, too. This business of registering one’s whereabouts for life after having done the time for a crime (which is, as is always the case in capitalist society, unevenly enforced and penalized according to one’s wealth), is absolute bullshit. I say this as an old-school, card-carrying feminist warrior who has marched on the Capitol multiple times for women’s rights. We cannot isolate one group of “offenders” and make them permanent pariahs and then say that we have a rehabilitative system. What’s that about?
There is a lot of really graphic sexual content here. On the one hand, I am an old lady and it embarrassed me, but on the other hand, I have never seen a story where the sexual content was more essential to the telling of the story.
I wish this guy well, and I hope he can rebound and regain some joy in living. If he has become cynical, one can hardly blame him. This is not a light read, but a Lenny-Bruce-like attempt to restore some dignity to his own life and that of others who may find themselves wrongly accused and convicted of one of society’s most heinous crimes.