The Graybar Hotel
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The Graybar Hotel : Stories

4.48 (27 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.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 210 pages
  • 140 x 213 x 20mm | 315g
  • Scribner Book Company
  • United States
  • English
  • 1501162292
  • 9781501162299

Review quote

"The Graybar Hotel is unlike any other short story collection I've ever read. Dawkins' cast of characters are forever longing for escape--escape from prison, escape from their past, escape from freedom, even. And when the escape is successful, when one reality is traded for another, Dawkins' characters find themselves lost, even pining for what they had in the first place. The Graybar Hotel is not a "prison-book." It is a mirror, held up to our culture of incarceration. It is a testament, a testimony that the people inside prison are as much Americans, as much citizens as their guards, parole officers, and wardens, that there is no outside, that prisons are as much America as pubs, playgrounds, or parks. There is a current of electricity running through this book, a shocking voltage of truth. What an authentic and rare book The Graybar Hotel is." --Nickolas Butler, internationally bestselling author of Shotgun Lovesongs, Beneath the Bonfire, and The Hearts of Menshow more

Review Text

In The Graybar Hotel , Curtis Dawkins brings the contemporary short story at its best into the shadowy world of America at its worst, behind the bars of its overpopulated and ubiquitous prisons. These brilliantly crafted stories - with their formal inventiveness, savory dialogue, meticulous detail, and succinctly compassionate portraiture - are as much a manual in how to write original short fiction as in how to think about prisons. Still, anyone who wants to understand America's correctional system through the clarifying lens of great fiction will now have to know three indispensable books: Malcolm Braly's On the Yard , for the social novel; Chester Himes' Yesterday Will Make You Cry , for the bildungsroman; and now Curtis Dawkins' The Graybar Hotel , for the short story.-Jaimy Gordon, author of the National Book Award-winning novel Lord of Misruleshow more

Rating details

27 ratings
4.48 out of 5 stars
5 59% (16)
4 30% (8)
3 11% (3)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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