On the Yard by Malcolm Braly
(New York Review Books Classics)

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Synopsis

A major American novel, and arguably the finest work of literature ever to emerge from a US prison, On the Yard is a book of penetrating psychological realism in which Malcolm Braly paints an unforgettable picture of the complex and frightening world of the penitentiary. At its center are the violently intertwined stories of Chilly Willy, in trouble with the law from his earliest years and now the head of the prison’s flourishing black market in drugs and sex, and of Paul, wracked with guilt for the murder of his wife and desperate for some kind of redemption. At once brutal and tender, clear-eyed and rueful, On the Yard presents the penitentiary not as an exotic location, an exception to everyday reality, but as an ordinary place, one every reader will recognize, American to the core.
 

About Malcolm Braly

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Malcolm Braly (1925-1980) was born in Portland, Oregon. Abandoned by his parents, Braly lived between foster homes and institutions for delinquent children, and by the time he was forty had spent nearly seventeen years in prison for burglary, serving time at Nevada State Prison, San Quentin, and Folsom State Prison. He wrote three novels behind bars, Felony Tank (1961),Shake Him Till He Rattles (1963), and It's Cold Out There(1966), and upon his release in 1965 began to work on On the Yard. When prison authorities learned of the book they threatened to revoke his parole, and he was forced to complete it in secret. Published in 1967, after Braly's parole had expired, On the Yard received wide acclaim. It was followed by his autobiography, False Starts: A Memoir of San Quentin and Other Prisons (1976), and a final work of fiction, The Protector(1979). Malcolm Braly enjoyed fifteen years of freedom before his death in a car accident at age fifty-four. Jonathan Lethem is the author of seven novels, including Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude. He lives in Brooklyn and in Maine.
 
Published June 13, 2012 by NYRB Classics. 368 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for On the Yard

Kirkus Reviews

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Then there's Society Red, a man who has found a home behind bars and freaks like Gasolino, killer who finds an unusual way of obtaining a high, and Candy Cane, ""stuff,"" the perfect cell and bed partner.

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Publishers Weekly

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Life in prison is the subject of Braly's 1967 classic On the Yard, now back in print with an introduction by Jonathan Lethem.

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London Review of Books

A friend roped him in to do a job on the home of a wealthy Hollywood producer – ‘all we had to do was walk in and fill our pockets’ – but the producer was broke and Braly got six years for a 35 cent robbery.

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The New York Review of Books

A major American novel, and arguably the finest work of literature ever to emerge from a US prison, On the Yard is a book of penetrating psychological realism in which Malcolm Braly paints an unforgettable picture of the complex and frightening world of the penitentiary.

Jan 31 2002 | Read Full Review of On the Yard (New York Review ...

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