Critical Linking is sponsored by Park Row Books, publisher of We Own The Sky by Luke Allnutt.
The books were a big deal. Nobody had books on death row. They had never been allowed, and it was like someone had brought in contraband. Only six guys were allowed to join me in book club, but every guy on the row was now allowed to have two books besides the Bible in his cell. Some didn’t care, but others made calls out to family and friends to let them know they could send in a book or two. It had to be a brand-new book and be sent directly from a bookstore to the prison. It was like a whole new world opened up, and guys started talking about what books they liked. Some guys didn’t know how to read, others were real slow, almost childlike, and had never been to school beyond a few grades. Those guys didn’t know why they were on death row, and I wondered about a world that would just as soon execute a guy as treat him in a hospital or admit he wasn’t mentally capable of knowing right from wrong.
This piece on a death row book club is powerful and moving and necessary reading.
Join the club.
At a time when the nation’s social and political climate is more tense than ever before, there’s one novel thing that’s managed to transcend party lines and age differences. Book clubs are seeing a rise in popularity, especially among the millennial set, thanks to celebrities and social media driving the masses to the book industry. On Instagram alone, the hashtag #bookstagram has more than 18 million posts.
Are you in a book club? Is it a celeb one? You’re not alone!
If you’re heartbroken by harsh laws regarding immigrants and refugees: “Odysseus to Telemachus” by Joseph Brodsky, “The Blade of Grass from Ponar” by Abraham Sutzkever (translated by Maia Evrona), “151st Psalm” by Karl Shapiro and “The Ballad of the Children of the Czar” by Delmore Schwartz.
Great poetry recs based on what you’re interested in reading.