You Got Nothing Coming by Jimmy A. Lerner
Notes From a Prison Fish

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A memoir of astonishing power–the true story of a middle-class, middle-aged man who fell into the Inferno of the American prison system, and what he has to do to survive.

It is your worst nightmare. You wake up in an 8' x 6' concrete-and-steel cell designated "Suicide Watch #3." The cell is real. Jimmy Lerner, formerly a suburban husband and father, and corporate strategic planner and survivor, is about to become a prison "fish," or green new arrival. Taken to a penitentiary in the Nevada desert to begin serving a twelve-year term for voluntary manslaughter, this once nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn ends up sharing a claustrophobic cell with Kansas, a hugely muscled skinhead with a swastika engraved on his neck and a serious set of issues. And if he dares complain, the guards will bluntly tell him, "You got nothing coming."

Bringing us into a world of petty corruption, racial strife, and crank-addicted neo-Nazis, Jimmy Lerner gives us a fish’s progress: a brash, compelling, and darkly comic story peopled with characters who are at various times funny, violent, and surprisingly tender. His rendering of prison language is mesmerizingly vivid and exact, and his search for a way not simply to survive but to craft a new way to live, in the most unpropitious of circumstances, is a tale filled with resilience, dignity, and a profound sense of the absurd. In the book’s climax, we learn just what demonic set of circumstances–a compound of bad luck and worse judgment–led him to the lethal act of self-defense that landed him in a circle of an American hell.

Electrifying, unforgettable, bracingly cynical, and perceptive, You Got Nothing Coming is impossible to put down or shake off. What the cult favorite Oz is to television, this book is to prose–and all of the events are real.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Jimmy A. Lerner

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A native of Brooklyn, New York, and former resident of Danville, California, JIMMY LERNER served in the U.S. Army in Panama, subsequently received his M.B.A., and worked for eighteen years as a marketing executive and planner for Pacific Bell. In 1998 he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter; he has just been released on parole.From the Hardcover edition.
Published April 30, 2002 by Broadway Books. 416 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Crime, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Whatever the author’s personal failings, his depiction of contemporary prison life (he remains incarcerated, following a parole approval that was later denied) is invaluable: humorous, crisply detailed, and sometimes heartbreaking, as when his attuned suburban eye captures the desolate loneliness...

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Entertainment Weekly

B+ Originally posted Feb 22, 2002 Published in issue #640-641 Feb 22, 2002 Order article reprints

Feb 22 2002 | Read Full Review of You Got Nothing Coming: Notes...

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