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True Notebooks: A Writer's Year at Juvenile Hall

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True Notebooks: A Writer's Year at Juvenile Hall Cover

ISBN13: 9780375727610
ISBN10: 0375727612
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

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Staff Pick

"In this important and powerful book, Salzman invites us inside LA's Central Juvenile Hall where he teaches a writing class for violent juvenile offenders. Through classroom conversations and through the boys' own writing we get an overwhelming and insightful look into the minds and lives of the students. Session after session they expose their very personal thoughts and feelings about such subjects as their relationships with their parents and gangs, their guilt about the hurt they've caused, their attempts at hopefulness about their future, and their fears of imprisonment. Thought provoking and masterfully written, True Notebooks gives us a compassionate look at a group of adolescents who have been abandoned by both family and society."
Recommended by Michal D., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In 1997 Mark Salzman, bestselling author Iron and Silk and Lying Awake, paid a reluctant visit to a writing class at L.A.'s Central Juvenile Hall, a lockup for violent teenage offenders, many of them charged with murder. What he found so moved and astonished him that he began to teach there regularly. In voices of indelible emotional presence, the boys write about what led them to crime and about the lives that stretch ahead of them behind bars. We see them coming to terms with their crime-ridden pasts and searching for a reason to believe in their future selves. Insightful, comic, honest and tragic, True Notebooks is an object lesson in the redemptive power of writing.

Review:

"Salzman has captured some valuable truths. His students were lucky to have such a gifted and caring teacher. Salzman was lucky to have such receptive and giving students. Lucky, too, is the first-time reader of this unforgettable book." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Succeeds in adding something fresh, galvanizing and articulate to the overcrowded realm of classroom stories. Avoiding the inspirational pitfalls of the genre, [Salzman] provides a candid, involving teacher's diary enhanced by the writing of his students." Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Review:

"One cannot read...and not be stirred....As moving as it is sparse, as revealing as it is concealing, as straightforward as it is complex." Los Angeles Times Book Review

Review:

"Engaging....Salzman creates a cast of lively, convincing, and hugely sympathetic characters and True Notebooks is filled with powerfully moving scenes." O, The Oprah Magazine

Review:

"[Salzman's] account's power comes from keeping its focus squarely on these boys, their writing and their coming-to-terms with the mess their lives had become." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"A captivating story of hopeless young men whose committed teacher listens — and thereby learns as much as he teaches." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Both selections from the boys' writing and Salzman's taut storytelling give us multidimensional images of teenagers thrown into a justice system concerned only with punishment....[E]xamines a broken system with grace, wit, and gripping storytelling." Booklist

Review:

"Salzman is one of my favorite authors....Truly a remarkable book, filled with the unexpected." KLIATT

Review:

"In the hands of a lesser writer the characters in this book could easily be stock players....But Salzman is too skilled to allow that to happen. He scores his book with sharps and flats, and manages to bring each person into full relief." Douglas McCollam, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"The cast of characters is constantly shifting as Salzman's students disappear into the maw of the prison system, but thanks to his empathetic portraits, combined with their own writing, they are onstage long enough for us to know and care deeply about them." Houston Chronicle

Review:

"Salzman already has proved himself a solid writer....And one would think he may be attempting to prove himself a do-gooder, but the book ceases to be all about Salzman and becomes a study of gangsta subculture once it hits the legal system." The Oregonian

Review:

"Although Salzman is an accomplished writer of both nonfiction and novels, he wisely steps back and allows the boys' voices to dominate. Unsophisticated and untutored, they are nevertheless remarkably creative, witty and poignant." Providence Journal

Review:

"A highly readable and fascinating work....True Notebooks is no preachy tome. It's simply a story about a jail, some boys and the power of writing. The reader is left to ponder what it all means." Rocky Mountain News

Review:

"Despite what would seem to be a dreary prognosis for success, the book is compelling from Page 1 to the end because Mark Salzman figured out a way to build a gripping, morally ambiguous story from what would seem to be unpromising raw material." Denver Post

Review:

"This is a wonderful, generous and eye-opening account of youth who are rarely heard from, unless their crime makes the front page of the newspaper....The students highlighted in the book...are a lively, funny, earnest lot." San Jose Mercury News

Review:

"There is a clarity to Mark Salzman's writing, a lack of artifice that suggests a writer more interested in telling his story than in dazzling the reader with his words. And there's an unflinching honesty in this account..." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Synopsis:

From the author of the bestselling Iron & Silk and Lying Awake comes the exhilarating story of his experiences teaching writing in a juvenile correctional facility.

About the Author

Mark Salzman is the author of Iron & Silk, an account of his two years in China; Lost in Place, a memoir; and the novels The Laughing Sutra, The Soloist, and Lying Awake. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the filmmaker Jessica Yu, and their daughter, Ava.

Table of Contents

1 Somebody 3
2 Just Say No 9
3 Gentlemen 14
4 Trip to the Museum 22
5 Collision 45
6 Here I Am 56
7 Lockdown 71
8 Dream State 79
9 Arcana 90
10 Prisoner or Pumpkin 103
11 Feeling Special 115
12 Mother's Day 121
13 Played 126
14 A Day of Creation 146
15 Busted 170
16 Happy Birthday 179
17 Family Life 188
18 Two-Face 195
19 Send in the Clowns 210
20 The Buster 226
21 No Mercy Walls 242
22 Window Tappers 253
23 The Man I Was Supposed to Be 261
24 Thanks, Hate 273
25 Father's Day 294
26 The Letter 307
27 Dear Friend 321
Author's Note 327
A Note of Thanks 329
A Note about Inside Out Writers 331

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Aijung, June 20, 2009 (view all comments by Aijung)
This book was both intellectually and emotionally thought-provoking. It made me feel and question so many things that I had taken for granted - my freedom, ability to make choices, and access to creative expression. I think this book should be read by anyone who sees people in black and white terms - "Good" and "Bad," "Delinquent" or "Obedient." It certainly made me think about what leads juvenile offenders into the choices they make, and how important it is to allow them a way to vent their fear, frustration, and anger in a creative way in order to discover who they are. Mark Salzman steps back and lets the youths' writing speak for itself. Highly recommended.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(13 of 23 readers found this comment helpful)
Carol Imani, December 31, 2006 (view all comments by Carol Imani)
Mark Salzman's resolutely unsentimental account of his experience teaching writing to juveniles being tried as adults for serious crimes is an an eloquent testimony to the redemptive power of writing and also raises important questions about whether justice depends on ethnicity and financial resources. The boys in True Notebooks shatter stereotypes with the honesty, pathos, and humor in their writing, even as the hopelessness of their situations makes us wish for very different social realities.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(16 of 35 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375727610
Author:
Salzman, Mark
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Teaching Methods & Materials - Language Arts
Subject:
Creative writing
Subject:
Teacher-student relationships
Subject:
Composition & Creative Writing - General
Subject:
Creative writing -- Study and teaching.
Subject:
Reference/Writing
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage
Publication Date:
September 2004
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.06x5.24x.75 in. .58 lbs.

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Sociology » Urban Studies » General
Reference » Writing » General

True Notebooks: A Writer's Year at Juvenile Hall Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780375727610 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

"In this important and powerful book, Salzman invites us inside LA's Central Juvenile Hall where he teaches a writing class for violent juvenile offenders. Through classroom conversations and through the boys' own writing we get an overwhelming and insightful look into the minds and lives of the students. Session after session they expose their very personal thoughts and feelings about such subjects as their relationships with their parents and gangs, their guilt about the hurt they've caused, their attempts at hopefulness about their future, and their fears of imprisonment. Thought provoking and masterfully written, True Notebooks gives us a compassionate look at a group of adolescents who have been abandoned by both family and society."

"Review" by , "Salzman has captured some valuable truths. His students were lucky to have such a gifted and caring teacher. Salzman was lucky to have such receptive and giving students. Lucky, too, is the first-time reader of this unforgettable book."
"Review" by , "Succeeds in adding something fresh, galvanizing and articulate to the overcrowded realm of classroom stories. Avoiding the inspirational pitfalls of the genre, [Salzman] provides a candid, involving teacher's diary enhanced by the writing of his students."
"Review" by , "One cannot read...and not be stirred....As moving as it is sparse, as revealing as it is concealing, as straightforward as it is complex."
"Review" by , "Engaging....Salzman creates a cast of lively, convincing, and hugely sympathetic characters and True Notebooks is filled with powerfully moving scenes."
"Review" by , "[Salzman's] account's power comes from keeping its focus squarely on these boys, their writing and their coming-to-terms with the mess their lives had become."
"Review" by , "A captivating story of hopeless young men whose committed teacher listens — and thereby learns as much as he teaches."
"Review" by , "Both selections from the boys' writing and Salzman's taut storytelling give us multidimensional images of teenagers thrown into a justice system concerned only with punishment....[E]xamines a broken system with grace, wit, and gripping storytelling."
"Review" by , "Salzman is one of my favorite authors....Truly a remarkable book, filled with the unexpected."
"Review" by , "In the hands of a lesser writer the characters in this book could easily be stock players....But Salzman is too skilled to allow that to happen. He scores his book with sharps and flats, and manages to bring each person into full relief."
"Review" by , "The cast of characters is constantly shifting as Salzman's students disappear into the maw of the prison system, but thanks to his empathetic portraits, combined with their own writing, they are onstage long enough for us to know and care deeply about them."
"Review" by , "Salzman already has proved himself a solid writer....And one would think he may be attempting to prove himself a do-gooder, but the book ceases to be all about Salzman and becomes a study of gangsta subculture once it hits the legal system."
"Review" by , "Although Salzman is an accomplished writer of both nonfiction and novels, he wisely steps back and allows the boys' voices to dominate. Unsophisticated and untutored, they are nevertheless remarkably creative, witty and poignant."
"Review" by , "A highly readable and fascinating work....True Notebooks is no preachy tome. It's simply a story about a jail, some boys and the power of writing. The reader is left to ponder what it all means."
"Review" by , "Despite what would seem to be a dreary prognosis for success, the book is compelling from Page 1 to the end because Mark Salzman figured out a way to build a gripping, morally ambiguous story from what would seem to be unpromising raw material."
"Review" by , "This is a wonderful, generous and eye-opening account of youth who are rarely heard from, unless their crime makes the front page of the newspaper....The students highlighted in the book...are a lively, funny, earnest lot."
"Review" by , "There is a clarity to Mark Salzman's writing, a lack of artifice that suggests a writer more interested in telling his story than in dazzling the reader with his words. And there's an unflinching honesty in this account..."
"Synopsis" by , From the author of the bestselling Iron & Silk and Lying Awake comes the exhilarating story of his experiences teaching writing in a juvenile correctional facility.
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