The Graybar Hotel
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The Graybar Hotel : Stories

3.75 (440 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

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 existence. In 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 "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 Quemada," an inmate is released and finds freedom more 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 milk, 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 society.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 210 pages
  • 145 x 213 x 23mm | 318g
  • Scribner Book Company
  • English
  • 1501162292
  • 9781501162299

Review quote

"[Dawkins's] prison stories are insightful and well written, and they ring true. Dawkins possesses the acquired wisdom of a man who's been there, done that and, unfortunately, is staying there."
--Houston Chronicle
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Review Text

"Almost every one of the 14 short stories in the collection seems to have originated from something Dawkins experienced or witnessed in jail or prison, and almost every one reflects with devastating compassion on the guilt and regrets of the criminals inside ... [The Graybar Hotel is] well-written and worth reading for Dawkins' craft and insight, but it's also an occasion to consider an industry that has little to do with rehabilitation, and that makes it nearly impossible for its participants to recuperate their lives."
-Chicago Tribune
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Rating details

440 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
5 22% (96)
4 42% (184)
3 28% (122)
2 7% (32)
1 1% (6)
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