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Penitentiary Tales: a Love Story

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Thank you for considering my request for a review. I am a white writer whose recently released novel is peopled with characters from the African American community. Reviewed favorably by numerous white critics, it lacks the balanced point of view that only a critical assessment by a literate African American community can give. Therefore my appeal to you. Called “an insightful and at times darkly disturbing glimpse into an institution rarely entered by most readers” (Dr. John M. Coggeshall, Clemson University) Penitentiary Tales: a Love Story recounts the escapades of Dean Davis, a thirty-something, educated, straight white male from the affluent community of Sausalito, in Marin County, California, who is sent to an Illinois prison dominated by a daunting, ethnically diverse population of inmates from the mean streets of Chicago. How does he do his time? What challenges does he meet? Addressing issues of race and gender in America, it is at once a serious inquiry into the minds and hearts of the marginalized and the oppressed and a bit of a romp. Like Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, which celebrates the lives of the disenfranchised during the Great Depression without railing explicitly against social injustice, my novel sheds light on the daily lives of its characters, and on their humanity no matter how obscured by circumstance. In a moment of sympathy for an inmate doing life without parole, protagonist Davis reflects: “From my point of view we were all victims, even the lowest of the low, the most foul, forlorn and forsaken fuckers on the planet: victimized by the lack of a key, by a missing piece, by the absence of a blueprint, an instruction manual, a map of the soul; by too much of one chemical, too little of another.” Penitentiary Tales: a Love Story will appeal to readers of all persuasions who are concerned with the class and racial disparities prevalent in America today, and who appreciate a literary walk on the wild side. I served four years of a ten year sentence in an Illinois State Prison in the eighties for possession of marijuana, an experience I cherish for its revelations and which informs much of my writing and world view, especially regarding matters of race and gender. Penitentiary Tales: a Love Story is based on the journal I kept to memorialize those years. Be forewarned that the language is explicit and the scenes sometimes graphic. You will hear what I heard and see what I saw…and perhaps feel what I felt. A native of Chicago, I was awarded an MFA in Creative writing from Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, in 2015. I now live and write between the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern Oregon. For previous reviews and excerpts of Penitentiary Tales: a Love Story, please visit my website, www.ealuetkemeyer.com. Feel free to contact me directly at geneluetkemeyer@yahoo.com. I will mail a signed print copy of Penitentiary Tales: a Love Story to the first five readers to respond, or will forward a digital pdf to all responders. Thank you again for considering my request.

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