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Almost Home: My Life Story Paperback – 3 Jun 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (3 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0595357016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595357017
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,094,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

A prolific and accomplished writer, poet, and visual artist, Damien Echols has found unexpected inspiration in his grim situation. He currently resides on death row in an Arkansas prison. Innocent of the crime for which he was convicted, Damien continues his fight for freedom.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The story of the West Memphis Three (see [...] for full case details) is a gripping one. You couldn't write a better story. Although, it is fair to say that some may say 'this is too far-fetched, this could NEVER happen' ... but it DID happen, it is STILL happening.
Damien Echols is no longer the teenager that was incarcerated in the early 70's accused of the brutal murder (along with Jesse Misskelley and Jason Baldwin) of three 8 year old boys. Sometimes the teenager still glows from the pages of this book. The man who's never seen the internet, who's never watched a DVD all because he wore black, read occult books and was viewed with suspicion by a small pocket of the West Memphis community.
This book is an insight into the background of this man. People who want the gory details of his arrest and trial will be sorely disappointed, these are only touched on in the last few chapters, and not in much detail either.
Instead, the story of a young man discovering himself; rebelling,falling in obsessive love, battling with parents (and step-parents) unfolds. We could all have written the first half of the book ... well, most of us. Instead, in the back of your mind, as you read this, you know that Damien Echols is not like us. Damien is a man who has been locked up and had the key thrown away. Damien is a man sitting on death row, waiting for justice to be done.
Before I'd heard about the WM3, I used to joke to my friends that if I was ever suspected in a murder case, and they took a look at my book collection, I would be a prime suspect (let's face it, every killer has had their library records and book collections scrutinised). I stopped making this joke after I read about this case. Because it happened to these boys.
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Format: Paperback
Damien Echols is sat on death row for a crime he says he didn't commit. It wasn't hard to make up my mind, the police say he and two friends did it. You decide. While reading this book I laughed and cried. I read it in one day I could not put it down. I challenge you not to have a lump in your throat as he recalls how he cried when he started to get letters of support. It's an American tragedy.
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Format: Paperback
If you are interested in this case, you will love this book. It is now 13 years since the murders that happened in 1993. Highly recommend this one.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 102 reviews
95 of 114 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted SOOO much to love this book. 2 Feb. 2011
By Keekles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
First off, let me preface by saying I'm exactly the same age as Damien Echols and I remember being 18 and watching his trial on TV. I was a "goth chick" in Canada at the time and I had incredibly ambivalent feelings about it. On the one hand, I figured the cops must know what they're doing and, therefore, have the correct suspects. But on the other hand, he (and the other 2) just didn't seem like Satanic killers - and this scared me. I was used to be persecuted all the time in my own little world, so when the documentaries Paradise Lost 1 & 2 came out, I jumped on the "Free the WM3" Bandwagon hard! After reading Devil's Knot, I was completely addicted to this case.

Having said that, this book was not as satisfying to me as the Paradise Lost docs and Devil's Knot. There are a number of reasons why this book bugged me.

1) It was too short and not detailed enough, particularly about his childhood. Now, I know it's difficult to remember every insignificant detail that happens, but I would have liked some more depth to the description of his relationships - especially with his mother. I just felt like he focused a great deal on his poverty and how much he hated Jack, and there was little else substance.

2) The prose was extremely imitative. I got a good chuck of a way through the book with this nagging feeling that I have read this "voice" before and it was not until I got about until the point where he moved into the tin roof hut that I realized this was the style that Stephen King used in his memoir "On Writing." I know Damien Echols is a big fan of Stephen King and all, but I just couldn't help feel that right before writing this memoir he read "On Writing" and tried his best to emulate it. It came across as contrived and empty.

3) His vicious contempt for overweight people. I am not overweight myself, so his comments didn't offend me PERSONALLY. But it didn't take a Doctor of psychology to see that he is harboring some deep narcissistic issues, specifically against fat people. There must have been dozen metaphors about overweight people and implying that their obesity indicates a major personality flaw. It became really awkward to read all his shallow insecurities like that and I began feeling really embarrassed for him as a writer. The other metaphor that got old the first time he used it was to describe the "gay porn 70's moustaches" that all Arkansas cops seemed to have at the time. He just came across as incredibly arogant and self-important. A little humility would have been much more endearing.

4) The way he described his wife. I don't want to go into too many details to "spoil" things for those who have not read it. And I understand he has been locked up in prison without much contact with women for a long time. But there were a couple things that he said about his wife that came across as shallow and immature... and, well, horny. And I understand that a great deal of his development is stuck at age 18. You can only mature so much by reading books in isolation, so I don't completely fault him for this last point.

Overall, it was an OK book. It wasn't the best book I've ever read, but I am still a die hard supporter of the WM3. I still believe Damien Echols is innocent, despite the fact that I now realize he is an arrogant narcissist. I relate to him less than I did as a goth girl back in the 90's, but I'm OK with that. I don't think the Pulitzer people will be banging down his prison door to talk to him about this book, but it's still an interesting read for those who are followers of this case.
100 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEAUTIFUL 23 Jun. 2005
By Kathryn Bakken - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Amazingly intimate and personal reflections of Damien Echols, an innocent man currently enduring a deathrow prison sentence (Jason Baldwin and Jessie Miskelley were also convicted and got life sentences). While the West Memphis case has been under a magnifying glass -- two HBO documentaries, two books written about the case and the clearinghouse for all legal information, the wm3.org website -- not much is known about who he was before the murders that resulted in his unjust conviction. And he does not disappoint. The bulk of the book concerns his growing up poor mostly in the repressed south. Fascinating and a must read for anyone who has taken an interest in the West Memphis Three case.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No need to get if you've read life after death 11 Jan. 2013
By B. McGraw - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is essentially a rawer version of large portions of Life After Death. What makes it interesting is since it didn't (assumedly) have pr people checking final drafts, it comes across as angrier and more judgmental of Echols surroundings and circumstances, (he really seems to hate fat people!) which is interesting but not compelling enough to spend $50-$100 on, especially since you'd be buying it from a reseller.

If Echols rereleases it, I'd say go for it, otherwise it's not really necessary to read this if you've read Life After Death
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A claustrophobic view of the world 30 Jan. 2012
By Ghidarcea Loredana - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Up to the age of 18, Damien Echols had never flown anywhere, he didn't even have a driving licence. He lived in a small town in Arkansas and, as he tells us in this book, even the definitive act of teenage rebellion - "sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night" - didn't result in anything spectacular such as: getting drunk in a club, for example, since every establishment was closed after 10 PM. He spent most of his life looking for snakes and perfecting his skate board technique.

Then in a town where "nothing happened", something happened to Damien Echols. He was sentenced to death for the murder of three 8 year old boys. This resulted in Damien spending the next half of his life on death row, 10 of which were spent in isolation. To say he has had a very limited experience of the world is somewhat of an understatement.

If you've reached this page, you probably know all listed above. Also if you're here, you probably already picked a side on whether or not Damien Echols is a murder or an innocent men who lost half of his life at the hands of an unrelenting system of justice. For clarification purposes, I will openly state that I believe Damien Echols is innocent. That is not to say, you should not read this book if you believe him guilty of the crime.

This book will not give you any answers that might shed light on the accusations. It is simply a story of a man's life. What will add or detract from your enjoyment of the book is whether or not you like Damien Echols as a person. So if you haven't done so before, maybe listen to a few interviews before investing. I like him. I liked him before reading the book and like him even more now.

I'd like to address a few of the criticisms this book has received. First, that the narrator is self absorbed. I agree but then again it is a retelling of his life, through his eyes so a self centered view of the world is to be expected, especially since human contact is not something Damien Echols has had in abundance. The most comprehensive relationship he has had thus far is with himself.

Secondly there is the matter of Damien's dislike of "fat people". I never picked up on that. What I did pick up on was an incredible dislike of policemen, guards (all of whom he does call fat and many other things through out the book) and a general distrust of the judicial system. But when you're on death row for a murder you did not commit that's a pretty understandable reaction.

Thirdly, Damien is called immature. I agree. He is. There is only so much you can learn about life from reading books and watching TV. Damien is somewhat stuck in the mindset of an 18 year old but rather then detract from my enjoyment of the book, I actually found it intriguing. This is because when dealing with life a person resorts to an entire baggage of life experiences. Damien hasn't accumulated this baggage so he clings to the supernatural, the divinity and nostalgic memories of his teenage years. It's a way of coping and it's kept him sane through out this experience.

The last thing is a general hostility Damien displays through out the book not only to the system but also to people in his town. Even before being on death row, Damien Echols was an outcast, he did not conform. People didn't get him and he didn't get them. You can see how that might result in a very claustrophobic story.

The question any review should answer is: Will this book bore you to death? For all intents and purposes, it should. There isn't much in terms of adventure, action or suspense. For a fact, there isn't much about death row either. I admit that when I first began reading this book, I thought it would explain what it's like to live on death row for 10 or so years. It doesn't. Instead, it's Damien Echols explaining what it's like to grow up a misfit in West Memphis, Arkansas. Seeing that I'm a 27 year old woman who has lived in a big city all her life, that shouldn't be all that fascinating for me. But the thing is, Damien Echols is a pretty interesting person and I found I enjoyed looking at the world through his very narrow window.

I read the book in one afternoon and it's definitely an experience I enjoyed very much. The reason why this book get 4 stars instead of 5 is that the prose and structure is not very polished, it's disjointed at times and even awkward in places. Also the spelling of "magik" really got on my nerves at some point. He's clearly a very intelligent, eloquent man, he must know how to spell this word. Maybe it's a cultural reference that I just don't get ...
All in all, I think Damien Echols does have the makings of a good writer and now that he is free to experience life on his own terms, I hope to read more from him soon.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good look in 9 Jan. 2010
By Andrea Holland - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This was written from death row...and it allows you to come on in and meet Damien personally. We know where he is and with this you can find out from where he comes.
I've been following this story from the start..my kids were small in fact. I had family members that couldn't believe my stance on this.
These three are innocent of the crime they have been accused of..period. Since my stance has not changed and my children are now grown, my family thinks I may have a point.
I'm an 80's child and we all wore hideous clothes back then and it scares me to think just what can happen to someone based on appearance and lack of monetary funds to fight with.
The state of Arkansas and the powers that be need to retrial. It's ok to make a mistake..but for God's sake correct it! Good read! Get it.
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