The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Jail: Mutilated Animal Farm

Back in the late ’90s, the Secker & Warburg publishing house released an 11-volume edition of George Orwell’s correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, and literary notes, all of this being presumably intended for those among the book-buying public who just really, really love George Orwell and want to have all of his intellectual honest babies. Apparently I’m among these people, as after receiving one of the volumes a couple of months ago from a kind supporter and finding it rather fascinating, I’ve since obtained and compulsively re-read five more of them.

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The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Jail: Enter the Kissinger!

Not long ago I requested and received White House Years, Henry Kissinger’s 1,500-page account of his stint in the Nixon Administration, the Ford Administration being covered in a later and no doubt less edifying volume. I was so excited that I wanted to share a bit of my joy with my cellmate, Tom. Tom is a bank robber who has the words “Game Over” tattooed on his knuckles, which is to say by implication that at some point in his life he happened to glance at his knuckles, noticed that the words “Game Over” were not to be found on them, and said to himself, “I’d better get that rectified.” When I was first assigned to his cell, I noticed that he was in possession of something called The Anger Management Workbook, which is rather a cliche thing for one’s new cellmate to have lying around. I like to think that before he came upon this textual remedy, he spent a great deal of his time pummeling people to death while shouting, “Game Over!”

“Tom,” I asked him now, “Would you like me to read to you from Henry Kissinger’s memoirs in Henry Kissinger’s voice?”

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The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Jail: The White People Meeting

Toward the end of my first week here at the Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution, I was approached by another inmate.

“You ready, Brown?”

“Ready for what?”

“Whites having a meeting.”

I hesitated. Of course, by this point in my incarceration, I was aware of the extent to which inmate affairs are usually organized along racial lines, but this was the first time my presence had been requested at a white-people meeting.

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The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Jail: Secrets of the Illuminati, or, Yay, Cookies!

At the end of 1990, the U.S. federal prison system held about 65,000 inmates. At the end of 2010, it held 210,000. During the same period, the total number of state inmates increased by less than half that rate. One could conclude from this one of two things: either the Department of Justice has been doing something right, or it has been doing something wrong.

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The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Jail: The Poetry of William Blake

Ever since I was a young boy growing up amid the hardscrabble streets of Highland Park, it has been my fondest dream to write a bi-monthly column for D Magazine’s website focusing on the literary life of North Texas jail inmates. Having now spent some 16 months incarcerated at three different federal detention facilities while awaiting trial on charges I’m not legally permitted to discuss, I am finally in a position to write such a thing.

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