In 1937 Chester Himes, newly released from a seven-year stretch in the Ohio State Penitentiary for grand larceny, finished his first novel, Yesterday Will Make You Cry. By turns brutal and lyrical and never less than totally honest, it tells the autobiographical story of young Jimmy Monroe's passage through the prison system, which tests the limits of his sanity, his capacity for suffering, and his definition of love. Stunningly candid about racism, homosexuality, and prison corruption, the book would take sixteen years and four subsequent revisions before being published in much altered form as Cast the First Stone in 1952. Even bowdlerized, it was recognized as a sardonic masterpiece of debasement and transfiguration.
This edition presents for the first time the book precisely as Himes intended it to be read, with its raw honesty and startling compassion entirely intact. It now stands definitively as one of the great novels of prison life and one of Himes's most enduring literary achievements.
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Much of the story concentrates on the ``girl-boy'' culture behind bars, and Jimmy, with the beautiful young Rico, indulges in a romance of ``fantasy and frenzy and delirium.'' Just as the pair's dangerous friendship threatens Jimmy's future in jail, he's transferred to farm duty, the last step be...| Read Full Review of Yesterday Will Make You Cry (...
Himes (who spent seven years in prison) masterfully presents the arbitrary violence (from both inmates and guards), the corruption, the regularity of unlamented death, the uneasy relations of the races and the psychological elongation of prison time (""Each moment was absolute, like a still photo...| Read Full Review of Yesterday Will Make You Cry (...
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