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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Jimmy Lerner's chilling, yet surprisingly funny, first person account of his Nevada prison sentence for murder is clearly destined to be one of the most talked-about and well-reviewed books of 2002. Call it "Dilbert Goes to Prison."
New prison inmates are referred to as "fish," which is more than fitting, considering that Lerner's even more of a fish out of water than most. He was a cubicle dweller, a telephone company Organization Man who suddenly finds himself -- totally naked -- in Suicide Watch Cell No. 3, a less-than-desirable site within the Las Vegas prison system. At first, the reader doesn't know exactly why Lerner's in stir (the details behind the murder he committed are not revealed until the book's feverish conclusion), but his frequent references to a nemesis known only as The Monster dramatically set the stage.
Lerner eventually makes the acquaintance of a gentleman known as Kansas, an immense white supremacist sporting huge tattoos and an attitude to match. Lerner's innate sense of humor -- and unwillingness to kowtow, even though that seems to be the smart thing to do -- manage to win him Kansas' friendship (a valuable connection, given that Kansas is one of the top "dawgs" in the Fish Tank, as the prison is called). Lerner is rechristened "O.G." (for Original Gangster), and he sets out to try to survive what he hopes (mistakenly) will be a parole-shortened sentence.
Lerner's plight is so scary that the reader can't help but pull for him as he tries to use the management techniques learned in boring corporate seminars to keep himself alive. Occasionally, Lerner subtly reminds the reader that he is, indeed, a murderer. But once he gets around to detailing his run-in with The Monster, the book moves to a totally different level: What makes a man kill? Lerner has penned a "fish story" the reader won't soon forget. (Nicholas Sinisi)
Nicholas Sinisi is the Barnes & Noble.com Nonfiction editor.