'Riveting ... The brutality beggars belief, but Lerner is so witty that the book is a joy to read.' -- Mail on Sunday, 23rd February 2003
From the Back Cover
NOTES FROM A PRISON FISH
You are convicts. Your job here is to lie, cheat, steal, extort, get tattoos, take drugs, sell drugs, shank and sock each other. Just don't let us catch you - that's our job. We catch you, you got nothin' coming.
It is your worst nightmare. You wake up naked in an eight-by-ten-foot steel cell designated 'Suicide Watch #3'. The cell is real. Jimmy Lerner, former family man and corporate strategic planner, has become a prison 'fish', or green new arrival. Taken to a penitentiary in the Nevada desert to serve a twelve-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter, this previously nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn ends up sharing a claustrophobic cell with Kansas, a hugely muscled skinhead with a swastika tattooed on his neck and a serious set of issues.
You Got Nothing Coming takes us into a corrupt world powered by violence, drugs, rape, fear and racial hatred. With brash, dark humour Jimmy Lerner tells us how the techniques learnt in management seminars have helped him survive in this hostile environment, and how a lethal act of self-defence landed him in this circle of American prison hell in the first place. Bracingly cynical and perceptive, this terrifying story is all truth.
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I am naked in Suicide Watch Cell No. 3.
The white paper coverall lies on the concrete floor, ripped in so many places I must have shed it like a snakeskin while I slept.
I hope they do not blame me.
There are no windows in my cell, and of course they took my watch, but I can estimate the time by the food trays. Three times a day an unseen hand shoves a plastic tray through a slot in the bottom of the solid steel door.
If it's a handful of Rice Krispies and a dented orange (invariably encrusted with a thick white mold), then it must be breakfast time. Yesterday they gave me a few Cocoa Puffs instead of the Krispies. The chocolate puffs were all embedded in the white mold like sprinkles on a vanilla ice cream cone.
Not yummy, but I love chocolate.
Peanut butter and jelly means it's about noon, and macaroni and cheese must signify Happy Hour here on the nut wing of the Las Vegas county jail. I no longer pound on the cell door whenever I hear footsteps outside.
I think it makes them mad.
At night I can hear screams and wild sobbing from the other cells. Keys jangle whenever the cop approaches my cell door, but he rarely responds to the questions I try to shout out through the door. Like, "What time is it?"
Maybe the cop, wise to the workings of the devious criminal mind, regards this as a trick question.
My paper suit may have been less than fashionable, but it was certainly functional, and, most important, it was mine. When all you have in this world is a half roll of toilet paper and a little piece of gray soap the size of a Chiclet, any property loss is an occasion for mourning.
When the food slot opens for breakfast, I seize the opportunity to announce my nakedness to my unseen captors.