Sunday, August 5, 2012

"Larceny in My Blood"

Matthew Parker recently earned an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and has been drug- and crime-free since 2002. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he now lives in New York City.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new book, Larceny in My Blood: A Memoir of Heroin, Handcuffs, and Higher Education, and reported the following:
On page 69 of my book there is a comparison of prison bureaucracy with university bureaucracy, and how the costs—and by that token, the profits—of both have risen dramatically over the past 30 or so years. I also talk about how strange it was for me to go from an Arizona State Prison to an Arizona State University:
“I went from a prison yard to a college campus.”

“From muscular men to women with fake tits.”

“And cell phones.”

“There are lots of fake tits and cell phones at Arizona State.”

“It’s a wonder that they haven’t yet combined the two.”

“There were no tits in prison, but lots of pecs.”
The drawings that accompany these lines are satirical, highlighting how obsessed many of us can be with our chests. In prison, most guys work out their upper bodies only, leading to what is known as the “prison build;” massive torsos mounted precariously on scrawny waist and legs, so that it often looks like they will tip over at any minute. Women with breast implants, by comparison, often conjure the same top-heavy image, and I was both surprised and dismayed to witness the prevalence of so many young women who felt that they needed to surgically augment their bodies in order to feel attractive. Added to this was the sheer ubiquity of cell phones and you had a very confused ex-con walking around the campus of ASU.

Page 69 is somewhat representative of the book in that it shows how prison can often be a microcosm of society, a theme repeated throughout the book. But it also underscores the tax dollars being spent to imprison so many nonviolent drug offenders; tax dollars that would better serve the public on more worthwhile institutions.

Like education.
Learn more about Larceny in My Blood at the publisher's website, and visit the Larceny in My Blood Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue