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Brother One Cell: An American Coming of Age in South Korea's Prisons
     

Brother One Cell: An American Coming of Age in South Korea's Prisons

3.4 5
by Cullen Thomas
 

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Cullen Thomas was just like the thousands of other American kids who travel abroad after college. He was hungry for meaning and excitement beyond a nine-to-five routine, so he set off for Seoul, South Korea, to teach English and look for adventure. What he got was a three-and-a- half-year drug-crime sentence in South Korea's prisons, where the physical toll of life in

Overview

Cullen Thomas was just like the thousands of other American kids who travel abroad after college. He was hungry for meaning and excitement beyond a nine-to-five routine, so he set off for Seoul, South Korea, to teach English and look for adventure. What he got was a three-and-a- half-year drug-crime sentence in South Korea's prisons, where the physical toll of life in a cell was coupled with the mental anguish of maintaining sanity in a world that couldn't have been more foreign. This is Thomas's unvarnished account of his eye-opening, ultimately life-affirming experience. Brother One Cell is part cautionary tale, part prison memoir, and part insightful travelogue that will appeal to a wide readership, from concerned parents to armchair adventurers.

Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
Compelling.
William Grimes
Brother One Cell is Mr. Thomas's affecting account of his prison experience. It's an offbeat coming of age story, the tale of a wide-eyed, innocent, middle-class American thrust into a world of deprivation and daily trials that speed his passage into adulthood and a deeper understanding of himself and the fallen creatures around him . . . told simply, and with extraordinary good humor...[T]he detail is fascinating.
The New York Times
Booklist
[Thomas's] memoir...explains how that time of incarceration represented his real education....His account of that journey is gripping.
Vagabonding.com
Part travelogue, history lesson, prison commentary, and cautionary tale, Brother One Cell reminds us that travel is often an interior pursuit at heart.
Outside
In reflective, often highlighter-worthy prose . . . Thomas lyrically describes his Zenlike effort to stay sane through shoe-factory work and prison basketball.
Publishers Weekly
In May 1994, Thomas, a slacker vagabond teaching English, was arrested in Seoul, South Korea, for smuggling hashish into the country. He served three and a half years in various prisons and was released in 1997. In this strangely uneventful memoir, Thomas recounts his trials and tribulations in flat, unmodulated prose. Using an unnecessarily complicated flashback style at the beginning, Thomas presents himself as an innocent abroad-a symbol of the legions of disaffected middle-class youth wandering the globe aimlessly looking for, well, they don't really know. While teaching English to Korean children, Thomas falls in with an unsavory lot and heads to the Philippines for a drug deal. This goes awry, and he lands in prison, where he meets and befriends various other foreigners. One prison is like a U.N. of convicted losers. Most troubling is that while Thomas gives the reader plenty of detail and keeps the story moving forward well enough, he seems little affected by the experience. It is as though, as a relatively privileged American, Thomas is so stunned by being forced to serve his full term for his crime that he is unable or unwilling to be humbled by the experience. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Brother One Cell is Mr. Thomas's affecting account of his prison experience. It's an offbeat coming of age story, the tale of a wide-eyed, innocent, middle-class American thrust into a world of deprivation and daily trials that speed his passage into adulthood and a deeper understanding of himself and the fallen creatures around him . . . told simply, and with extraordinary good humor...[T]he detail is fascinating."
-William Grimes, The New York Times

"Compelling."
-Chicago Tribune

"Scary, funny, [and] honest as hell . . . This is memoir at its highest level."
-Ray LeMoine, co-author of Babylon by Bus

"In reflective, often highlighter-worthy prose . . . Thomas lyrically describes his Zenlike effort to stay sane through shoe-factory work and prison basketball."
-Outside

"His account of that journey [to higher understanding] is gripping."
-Booklist (Starred Review)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101202098
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/26/2008
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
File size:
412 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Ray LeMoine
Scary, funny, [and] honest as hell . . . This is memoir at its highest level. (Ray LeMoine, co-author of Babylon by Bus)
Jeff Neumann
Cullen's story, and that of his fellow inmates, is an extraordinary journey into an inescapable nightmare. He begins his sentence as a bitter young man - confused, scared, and struggling to come to terms with his terrible lot. What transpires throughout the course of this wonderfully written memoir is at the same time provocative and entirely heartbreaking. (Jeff Neumann, co-author of Babylon By Bus)

Meet the Author

Cullen Thomas's writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Salon.com, The Washington Post, and Penthouse, among other publications.

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Brother One Cell: An American Coming of Age in South Korea's Prisons 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
dvorders More than 1 year ago
A well-told story about an interesting topic.  He provides insight in a compelling manner and keeps the reader entertained.  Recommended!
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