(Pdf Read) True Notebooks A Writer's Year at Juvenile Hall Author Mark Salzman
I loved this book I ve never read anything else by Salzman and to be honest none of his other work I ve read just a brief synopsis of each of his other books particularly jumps out to me as something I d be really into However I love how he presented this experience to the reader and that he shared it at all since obviously teen prisoners particularly low income minorities are not a group that gets much of an outlet or voice The students in his class are depicted so vividly et subtly that How to Restore Your Bmw Motorcycle Twins 1950-1969 you get a feel for them as real people they never come off as trite versions of real people sanitized for print Salzman also does a great job of stepping back and allowing other characters in the story the students the staff etc to take center stage I feel like another writer might have sort of turned the whole thing into True Notebooks is intoxicating thought provoking totally addicting and heartbreaking all at once The characters in this book the real life juvenile delinuents that Salzman worked with are amazing people despite their criminal records This book showsou just how NOT so black and white the American justice system is These kids who are arrested are real people who make mistakes and Faerie yes they should own up to them but how we as a society should handle them and their mistakes is something I have been rethinking the whole time I ve been reading this bookThis book is wonderful for so many reasons that I m not sure I can really get them all down in this review It s inspirational for teachers writers prisoners and even their family members It s entertaining because the dialogue and writing are hilarious in both a laugh out loud funny kind of way and a self deprecating sort of way too I loved Salzman s storytelling it was honest especially at the beginning and he wasn t afraiduncomfortable with not knowing especially when it came to explaining to others about why he was doing this program As a teacher I could relate to his honesty sincerity and sometimes naive thinking Many of the boys in the book reminded me of some of my students which is both good and bad Almost all of the writing featured in the book caused me to really stop think and reread before moving on I kept wondering what I could do to make my teaching inclusive and engaging for these kids who are just barely hanging on sometimes Also the depth and amount of reflection that shows in their writing is surprising I have taught writing to teenage boys and I know it s not their favorite subject but Salzman made it relevant and meaningful It really became a form of therapy for many of them and since our prison system doesn t really offer a lot of real opportunity for rehabilitation I think this program did a lot for many of his students I was glad to read that InsideOUT Writers still exists int he LA County system because I am sure it is reaching the kids at least on some levelThe book left me wondering about some big picture issues of how we should actually rehabilitate criminals especiallyoung ones as well as how we can realistically try to do preventative stuff to avoid situations that the kids in the book are facing There is no doubt in my mind that the system is unfair especially in terms of how it treats minorities But it also left me wondering about what we as a society need to
Do To Catch These to catch these before its too lateI m not sure the book left me with many answers mostly a lot of uestions but I enjoyed reading it and recommend it to anyone who cares about oung people In True Notebooks Mark Salzman relates his experiences teaching a creative writing class to kids in Los Angeles s Central Juvenile Hall a lockup for LA s most violent teenage criminals Most of the kids who join his class are in jail for 187 the police code for murder Many are gang membersSalzman is initially roped in to teaching the class by his friend Duane who also teaches at the jail Initially he s unsure of whether or not to do it and he spends a lot of time jotting down pros and cons in his notebookREASONS NOT TO VISIT DUANE S WRITING CLASS AT JUVENILE HALL students all gangbangers feel unualified to evaluate poems about AK 47s still angry about getting mugged in 1978 still angry about having my apartment robbed in 1978 still angry about my wife s car being stolen in 1992 wish we could tilt LA country and shake it until everybody with a shaved head and tattoos falls into the ocean feel uncomfortable around teenagersREASONS TO VISIT DUANE S CLASS AT JUVENILE HALL have never seen the inside of a jail pretended to be enthusiastic when Duane mentioned itThe lists go on and on but in the end the matter is on and on but in the end the matter is by his wife who tells him ou don t get out enoughSalzman is an engaging writer and as the book goes on Goodbye Soldier War Biography you uickly get wrapped up in the details of his students lives Their writing excerpted throughout the book is not necessarily good in a polished writerly sense but compelling in terms of raw honesty emotion You get a sense of how fucked up their lives were before and how bleak their futures are now Many of the kids end up getting sentenced to 15ears or and some of them will be old men by the time they see the light of the day The realities of incarceration the dehumanization of the prison system become apparentSalzman s students are racially various but inevitably poor They range in personality from Benny a nerdy Asian kid who inevitably gets bullied by others but who holds his ground refuses to concede or change ends up acuiring a certain measure of grudging respect from the others to Nathaniel a charismatic black kid who fancies himself the next Iceberg Slim Nathaniel is a naturally gifted writer and orator. In 1997 Mark Salzman bestselling author Iron and Silk and Lying Awake paid a reluctant visit to a writing class at LA’s Central Juvenile Hall a lockup for violent teenage offenders many of them charged with murder What.
Download True Notebooks A Writer's Year at Juvenile HallBut his self destructive tendencies threaten to overwhelm his obvious talentsThe book s dramatic arc is essentially the progress of Salzman s kids within his class They start out distracted and apathetic but come to value their hour of creative focus Writing for them is therapeutic in a variety of ways It provides an opportunity to reflect on their childhood their crimes their current situation and their future aspirations It gives them pride in their abilities and escape from their fears This isn t Hollywood though and there are no miraculous transformations or swings of fate At the end of the day most of Salzman s kids are still adrift He admits when asked that he s not sure if his class is actually helping His motivation for teaching is primarily that he enjoys itI finished True Notebooks feeling sad for the kids who ended up stuck in jail for decades but happy to see that a few escaped and that all of them had gotten a small chance to express themselves There s a moment in the book where Salzman receives a card from Jimmy one of his students who s just been sentenced to 15 ears with no paroleWhen I got outside I stopped under one of the security lights to open Jimmy s letter The envelope held a Hallmark card On the cover was a picture of Snoopy dancing under the word Thanks The printed message inside confirmed Superintendent Burket s fears about the writing program It read You really made me feel specialIn extreme circumstances even the smallest gestures matter I read this book because it was recommended as a book to fill the Book Riot Read Harder challenge category of a book written in prison It exceeded expectations Mark Salzman an award winning writer is invited to teach a writing class to boys incarcerated at the juvenile facility in Los Angeles County Reluctant at first and agreeing mainly due to the relentless advocacy of the amazing nun coordinating programs in the facility Salzman finds himself transformed by the oung men he works with The writing produced by these Valkea kuin lumi young men is heartfelt and emotional expressing their feelings about their lives before and in juvenile hall as they come to terms with their crimes and attempt to find hope and meaning in the lives they face in prison The book humanizesoung men many see as hardened criminals and makes one uestion why laws were changed to try teenagers as adults An excellent read Early on in True Notebooks author Mark Salzman acknowledges that this is just one permutation of the old trope known as White Person Helps Impoverished Brown Children Realize That Art Matters Indeed this book s working title was Dangerous Freedom Writing Minds Find Forrester It helps that True Notebooks is a memoir and heck I ve got a weakness for that old trope This wonderful book has just solidified my chaste intellectual mancrush on Mark Salzman How to convey just how much I liked this book Let me just say that when I get home from DC it may be time to give my top 20 shelf a thorough review Alternatively I could say that Mark Salzman writes with the kind of charm wit sensitivity and humility that gives Anne Fadiman a run for her money Which is pretty high praise indeed I like Mark Salzman I love his daring way of writing about just about anything He seems like a nice guy on paper and in The Documentary His Wife Made That Features Him Protagonist But documentary his wife made that features him Protagonist But book felt like a terrible mis step to me Here s why I think soSalzman tries to paint himself in True Notebooks as the opposite of that neo neo colonial cliche The last thing he wants to be in this book is the civilized white guy coming in to save the natives or to exploit the natives Salzman the Author succeeds beautifully in creating a character who represents Mark Salzman in the book a character who is disarmingly bumbling and aware of his weaknesses But think again for a moment about Salzman the Author sitting at a laptop to write this book as he types the words of other authors these boys into his memoir In the most literal way possible Salzman has stolen the work of these authors The boys writing is the real story here Not all of the boys works republished in this memoir are great but much of it is sad insightful and wrenching and by definition these works are publishable since they are in the book Why aren t their names listed as co authors Do they get royalties As the original creators they own the copyright to these words unless Salzman persuaded them to sign a release in which case he exploited them terribly The copyright page at the front of the book lists only the estate of Loren Eiseley as having given permission Salzman uotes Eiseley s work in the book By discounting the authorship of his students entirely and giving no representation of them whatsoever on the copyright page Salzman the Author demonstrates with every word he writes that the rights of these oung men don t exist to himIf this blatant theft hadn t bothered me so much I would have used my review space here to complain about the expository dialogue an unbelievably clunky reconstruction of events No one talks like this except in very bad movies I take deep exception to Salzman s claim the non fiction can make up conversations and can be held to a different standard *of truth *Than Journalism It Cheapens The *journalism It cheapens the reading experience to know that True Notebooks is *truth than journalism It cheapens the whole reading experience to know that True Notebooks is in fact true The only claim to truth Salzman makes ironically is in his faithful reproduction of his students work The matter of truth bothers me a great deal especially since TRUE is in the title I begin to uestion everything for example how likely is it that these oung men could read fluidly out loud And even if Salzman. He found so moved and astonished him that he began to teach there regularly In voices of indelible emotional presence the boys write about what led them to crime and about the lives that stretch ahead of them behind bars. ,
Remembers the bones of a given conversation how likely is it that he would remember that during a given conversation a boy laid his arms flat on the table and trucked his chin in the crook of one elbow The writing is full of beats like this where people frown or sigh or look thoughtful It s too much Once one thread of doubt enters into the reading experience the whole thing unravels and the only thing left is the boys written words Mark Salzman did not plan to teach a writing class in LA s Central Juvenile Hall it sort of just happened after he went to observe a writer friend teach his class This is the story of two ears in Salzman s own writing class which he started the week after his visitWe get a glimpse of a world most of us have never thought much about a world where appearing soft is deadly where gang mentality rules where boys have grown older than their ears and are certainly no longer naive The life experiences many of these boys have lived through would shock anyone Part of Five Wealth Secrets 96% of Us Dont Know you will wonder how society as a whole allows these things to happen the other part ofou will agree with one of the last students to appear in the class a boy called Toa He did not believe in a poem one of the other boys had written one that said because of his friends he joined a gang and shot someone According to Toa the poet was blaming his life on his friends when he had made his own choices he had ignored his other options He said I got dealt shitty cards just like Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones Volume 3 you but it s how I played em got me in here Whateverou into ou in it by choiceWhen I first read that statement I agreed with it But then I got to thinking about it Peer pressure of course affected all of these boys but who am I to say they just should have said no I know very little about gang culture other than mostly the kids who join gangs seem to be desperate for a way to belong to something anything that will make them feel special After joining their lives seem to spiral further and further out of control And how many really did have other options Salzman s writing class made the boys feel special but some of the guards did not think that would help them in their future as inmates of adult prisons Most of the boys in the class were charged with murder one was eventually sentenced to over 50 ears in prison right after graduating from Juvenile Hall s high school program I hope he somehow managed to hold onto what he learned in writing classThis was an eye opener a ray of hope and Hooking Him yet a sad book all at the same time To the uestion of whether or not this program makes any real difference to the boys Salzman replies that a little good has got to be better than no good at all I have to agree with that At least Salzman was doing something to try to help Too many of us myself included don t get involved at all leaving theseoungsters to crash into their destinies all on their own I loved this book and now I m going to miss it You know the feeling You get comfortable with an author s voice
And With His Characters You Feel Likewith his characters Training the Trainer you feel like re riding shotgun cross country andou re new best friends and then WHAM Karsh Portfolio you re suddenly left roadside in Iowa whileour friends speed off to California alone where all finished books go Sad Bittersweet But let me emphasize the sweetMaybe I loved it because it is about an author who serves as a writing teacher in an LA Juvenile Hall where kids mostly charged with murder are awaiting trial I teach writing too but boy howdy these guys make my kids in the public schools look like choirboys and any teacher who is whining about his or her kids behavior should give this book a look see apples and oranges be damnedSalzman brings these confused kids to life with the dialogue segments especially where they egg each other on to write then read aloud what they wrote Their writings are in italics and are insightful to say the least How do teenagers become murderers Why do they so easily succumb to the siren call of gangs It s all here and while the entries are edifying it s the badinage that I like best Salzman provides all of the put downs and back and forths typical of teenage boys and a lot of it is lovingly vicious and hilarious I laughed aloud than onceIn the end there s a bit of sadness though Not just because the book is coming to an end but because Before Atlantis you become involved in some of these kids lives Salzman is at least careful not to oversentimentalize things He includes the perspectives of the victims and their families and often provides society s counterpoints to some of the boys angry diatribes about their fatesOverall a terrific read unexpectedly so Isn t it always the way A bookou have absolutely zero expectations about takes The Gypsy Wisdom Spellbook you by storm Oh for cripes sake Salzman is genius He keeps writing about things I imagine myself to have no interest in and I keep falling under his spell and becoming fascinated by his subjects Canou imagine lol ing several times in an exposition about guiding teenage murderers to express their hearts in writing Well I did and I bet if Life in the Slow Lane Observations on Art Architecture Manners and Other Such Spectator Sports you read thisou will too But of course mostly The Destruction of Jerusalem An Absolute and Irresistible Proof of the Divine Origin of Christianity you ll be moved and haveour perceptions will too But of course mostly Three Cups of Tea you ll be moved and haveour perceptions the juvenile criminal system and its participants shaken upside downOnly one thing I want to say is that if at first the writing seems to show too much talent Salzman to have too much success for this to be true I advise ou to 1 keep reading and 2 remember that these are just a few of the kids the ones who really wanted to be in this class many of the other kids are probably similarly intelligent and sensitive but don t want to be in a sissy academic futile writing classOh also keep reading to the very end the acknow. We see them coming to terms with their crime ridden pasts and searching for a reason to believe in their future selves Insightful comic honest and tragic True Notebooks is an object lesson in the redemptive power of writi.