The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell: Confessions of a Bank Robber

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9780060508937: The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell: Confessions of a Bank Robber

Joe Loya's idyllic childhood came to an abrupt end when his mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness. In the two years before her death, Joe's extremely religious father became increasingly violent toward his two young sons-a contradiction that haunted Joe for years. Then, at age sixteen, Joe retaliated during a particularly severe beating and stabbed his father in the neck.

For Joe, this was the starting point of a life of crime, and after holding up his twenty -- fourth bank, he was arrested and served seven years in prison. He continued his criminal behavior behind bars and was eventually placed in solitary confinement-the lowest of lows, even for convicts. Alone in his cell for two years, Joe was finally able to forgive his father, finding clarity, cultural insight, and redemption through writing.

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About the Author:

Joe Loya is an essayist and playwright, as well as a contributing editor with the Pacific News Service. His essays have appeared in several national newspapers and magazines, including the San Francisco Examiner, the Los Angeles Times, and El Andar magazine. He lives with his wife in the Bay Area.

From Publishers Weekly:

In this well-written, insightful memoir, reformed bank robber Loya provides a searing account of the physical and emotional scars he received growing up in East Los Angeles. After his mother's death, both Loya and his younger brother suffered horrible beatings from their father, a Protestant minister. While Loya avoids blaming his eventual career as a criminal on his father's brutality, the resulting feelings of helplessness clearly played a major role in transforming a bookish nerd into a violent thug. Pushed beyond his limits, Loya finally takes drastic steps to protect himself. His rapid descent into a life of crime leads to a demeaning and grueling prison stretch. Loya does a masterful job of conveying the survivalist ethos he's forced to adopt while incarcerated. His gradual rejection of that code, nurtured and sustained by a pen-pal relationship with poet Richard Rodriguez, is a little less well-developed, and his ending the narrative shortly after his release leaves unanswered some of the thoughtful questions he raises about rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Nonetheless, many readers will find Loya's honesty and self-awareness gripping and will root for him to transcend his inner demons.
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