I honestly don’t know how I came by the book The Graybar Hotel . I do know I didn’t finish it. I stopped at page 108 (seven short stories in- okay, I skipped one) out of 210 pages. The author Curtis Dawkins, an MFA graduate and convicted murderer serving life without parole, takes us inside the worlds of prison and prisoners with stories that dazzle with their humor and insight, even as they describe a harsh and barren existence.
Dawkins writes in one of his stories “I think it’d be nice to have only half brain. I’d really have an excuse then I could say something stupid and people would say, ‘figures’ or I could just hang a little chalkboard around my neck- I have half brain” (47). I am a clinical social worker, and what some may call an expert in the field of mental illness. I see, read about, and work with individuals who have been through hell and back; but it is not something I want to think about 24 hours/365 days a week. I have found a beautiful balance of a life. So, to crawl into bed or start my daily commute with this material wasn’t for me. Dawkins sums it up when he pens the words “People make mistakes, you can’t look back; there is a reason for everything; life’s a bitch sometimes. (68) All people are stories and I wish I knew for sure about Micky. I wish the veil of fog had lifted and I could have seen his story end clearly. I wish the end wasn’t only the beginning (76).”