Doing Time

May 29, 2007

Well, let’s see if I can’t get a couple things crossed off of my “to write about” list.  Since the last thing I wrote about was a Ponent Mon title, it seems like I could follow up with the only other one of their books I have (well, not counting Walking Man and Yukiko’s Spinach, but I already talked about those).

This book was alternately fascinating and boring, and I can’t explain to you how this works.  Actually, I can.  I really liked all the insight on prison life this offered.  There’s a ton of detail on absolutely everything I could have thought of to ask about prison.  There are detailed diagrams of almost everything, from the workshop to the cafeteria to the bathroom, two different styles of cell, and even the differences in uniform are diagrammed.  Each chapter is spent on a task, such as a special food day and how everyone feels about this, or a day at work where it’s necessary to ask to do things like pick up erasers and help other people out.  There’s also a lot of time spent on different disciplinary actions and how the different levels work.

On the other hand, too much detail can be a bad thing.  There was excruciating attention paid to just about every meal those fellas ate.  Above all, dinner plates were diagrammed for your edification.   Boring conversations go on for far too long, and it seems like there are a great many people who have something to say about their families or how they felt about yesterday’s dinner.  Granted, there’s also people who talk about their mob dealings and whatnot, but these conversations are few and far between.   I also feel like I should say that I was never uninterested when the events dealt with the author, but another unique thing about this series is that, although it’s about the author’s time in prison, only about half the time is spent with him.

It’s unique, to be sure.   It was a bit too much on the mundane side for me, but I thought it was still worth the read.