In the Belly of the Beast: Letters From Prison

This book collects Abbott s correspondence from prison with Norman Mailer, who provides an introduction Abbott was a convict who had served the bulk of his life in various prisons across the country The book is a lauded entry in the repertoire of prison literature.
In the Belly of the Beast Letters From Prison This book collects Abbott s correspondence from prison with Norman Mailer who provides an introduction Abbott was a convict who had served the bulk of his life in various prisons across the country T

  • Title: In the Belly of the Beast: Letters From Prison
  • Author: Jack Henry Abbott Norman Mailer
  • ISBN: 9780679732372
  • Page: 253
  • Format: Paperback
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    1 thought on “In the Belly of the Beast: Letters From Prison”

    1. This was a hard book to read given how the story of JHA ended. Still one of the best books I have ever read on prison life and how individuals feel when they are 'digested' In The Belly of the Beast.

    2. This was a very interesting book written by a very troubled man, who spent the majority of his life behind bars.I feel that Mr Abbott was troubled most likely in his early life also! Many people have bad or troubled early years and don't resort to lives of crime or fighting authority.I'm sure that the criminal justice system was a lot different in the 60's than today but the culture of us vs them still apply's today.I believe that even if one is in the joint a person can change if they want,even [...]

    3. At a young age Jack Henry Abbott was arrested for a petty crime, while in prison he advanced to murder, and almost the minute he was released due to an ego trip of Norman Mailer, he killed again and was returned to prison where he would eventually die by his own hand. I think this is an excellent book if you would like to see into the mind of a sociopath, who can talk a good intellectual game, but he seems to be entirely unable to empathize with any other human. He tells a story in the book abou [...]

    4. In a journey that began with Killing for Sport Inside the Minds of Serial Killers, I spent some of last year indulging in true crime stories. One of the things that Pat Brown does in the book mentioned is make a clear distinction between Psychotics (who can be cured, or at least managed, with drugs) and Psychopaths ( who don't have underlying medical issues but are cold and calculating and have the makings of becoming serial killers if social conditions create them that way). Intrigued by one of [...]

    5. My father rarely told the story, but he said he read The Bridge on the River Kwai during his stint in the Marine Corps, and upon reaching the climax of the book--which outraged him--he threw the novel overboard into the sea.And while I didn't throw it into the sea, Jack Henry Abbott's In the Belly of the Beast is the only book I've ever thrown away with deliberate intent--I simply wanted to spare others from having to endure that shitty book--at least that particular shitty book.It's one of a ge [...]

    6. booo whoo. I'm in prison so im gonna whine about it. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time. A bunch of dribble. Gave me a headache and heartburn.

    7. Indemoniata condannaUn detenuto cresciuto dallo Stato: un ragazzo che viene ritenuto responsabile del reato di “assenza di adattamento all'interno delle famiglie affidatarie” e quindi rinchiuso in un istituto minorile. Così il giovane Abbott, figlio di una prostituta di origine cinese e di un soldato irlandese, conobbe la crudeltà e la privazione del prigioniero, del dannato. Poi il primo reato da adulto, emissione di assegni a vuoto. Il carcere, l'omicidio di un altro detenuto, la condann [...]

    8. I had never thought about prisons before, so the thoughts in this book were completely new. I was horrified. I guess it's good that despite the overload of human suffering I've read about, I am still always shocked at our ability to harm others and other people's ability to persevereI definitely recommend this to anyone who wants a different perspective on our society. I would wait to read about Jack Henry Abbott until AFTER you read his story.A few notable passages (Abbott spent almost ALL of h [...]

    9. A book you can never like, but have to respect. The best lesson in what it means to be human can come from such documents of inhumanity.

    10. Psychopathic and narcissistic behaviors are defined as lacking empathy. No one chooses this state of emotional deprivation. Our error is that we believe those afflicted are unintelligent which simply is not so. Jack Abbott possessed a self taught intelligence but this in and of itself required self examination. One must first be able to ask the question, why. It seemed he had done the work and understood the why's better than most of us. How many of us can write with such honesty? What makes thi [...]

    11. I so wanted to like this book. I read an excerpt of it originally in an anthology of prison writing, and after reading the book in its entirety, I felt the excerpt pulled out the best parts of the book, about Abbott's childhood experiences in the Utah Industrial School for boys in Ogden. It is an interesting account of Abbott's experience in prison along with his philosophy. It provides a glimpse of the depravity of prison. However, Abbott has very carefully written a book without revealing much [...]

    12. A lot of people on this site are probably too young to remember all the fuss over Jack Henry Abbott in the 80s. He was in prison (I forget what for initially), and started corresponding with Norman Mailer. He eventually became a protege of Mailer, who worked to get him paroled. I bet you can guess the rest: he did wind up getting paroled, whereupon he murdered a young man with whom he had had an argument in a restaurant. He then got sent back to prison, where he eventually died fairly recently.T [...]

    13. It's been a while since I read this, but I recall it being a compelling read. Abbott's description of a life behind bars is very gripping, and I found myself hanging on his every word. The notion of a prisoner with the soul of a poet isn't exactly a novel concept, but Abbott demonstrates that even someone with a history such as his has a story to tell. Be that as it may, he was still a man hardened by the system, as the murder he committed following his parole demonstrated. Being unable to adjus [...]

    14. I became quite irked about 50 pages in when it started to dawn on me this book was rally about Jack Henry Abbott boo hooing about his life in prison. After a while I just wanted to scream okay yes you're in prison and it sucks but come on! You are there because you committed a horrible crime! This wasn't a case of wrongful incarceration or an unjust sentence. What did he expect? I couldn't stand the sob story and felt like he was trying to exploit the reader's pity.

    15. The story of Jack Henry Abbott is interesting, however I found this book to be a self-absorbed pity fest. Granted he had a hard life, however he was given a second chance he probably did not deserve and proved that to be the case. I will not be crying for him anytime soon and will not be reading this book again. Check it out from the library, don't buy it.

    16. About 70% of the book - the parts where he actually writes about prison - is absolutely riveting. The remaining 30%, where he expounds on Marxism and a bunch of other stuff, is pretty annoying and basically drivel.The first 90 pages are best read while listening to The Stooges.

    17. Career criminal describes life behind bars in letters to Norman Mailer. Mailer gets him paroled. Within days he's back in for murder. If not for this back story, no one would read this.

    18. Thought-provoking & disturbing, this is a first-hand account of a man who quite literally spent his entire life in a cage. Jack Henry Abbott started out being shuffled between foster homes. From there he was sent to a juvenile detention facility. At the age of eighteen he was transferred to a prison, where he committed his first murder in the struggle for survival. I have always been all too aware of the many flaws in our penal system, but this book really adds fuel to the fire for me. This [...]

    19. I believe many of the other reviews missed the point of the book and that is likely due to the context of its publication. Looking at the text itself, as I did this summer, I was able to glean the author's message without the hype from 'Executioner's Calling.' Abbot describes in detail many terrible realities about the US prison system, but I did not get the sense that he was trying evoke pity from the reader. The question is never does any man deserve justice, the point is to obliterate the mis [...]

    20. It's very unfortunate that this book is so indelibly connected with the events that it set in motion, because it's brilliant and painfully honest in its positions. And although it's impossible not to wince when the author discusses his violent tendencies or how he would function in the outside world, for me they don't seem to affect the book's essential value. I don't see this as the sort of book where one tries to determine if the author's conclusions are right, but instead just to understand t [...]

    21. When In the Belly of the Beast was written, Jack Abbott had spent most of his life in the criminal justice system, first as a juvenile then as an adult. His well written autobiographical work tells many harrowing tales and how Abbott's life was destroyed. Very good book. Seems important to note that Abbott's version of affairs is likely very self serving and incomplete. In 1981, author Norman Mailer got Abbott out of prison mainly on the strength of Abbott's wonderful book. Shortly after his rel [...]

    22. I forgot I never posted this book on here. I've read this through a couple times and often pick through it over certain topics. While the narrative is not entirely cogent (he goes off the rails a little when talking about Marx and Lenin), it is a piercing view inside the world of the maximum security prison system, especially pre Civil Rights Movement. For example, his discussion of the use of phenothiazine drugs in the penal system is staggering. Likewise his discussion of prison politics.If th [...]

    23. Truly, the story of Jack Abbott is one of those late twentieth century chestnuts that will endure in literature and film long after people have actually forgotten the man and this book. Abbott is a symbol for the excesses of New York style limosine liberalism. Wealthy author becomes pen pals with convicted felon, publishes book of felon's letters, felon becomes cause celebre, author gets felon out of prison, felon kills someone while out, felon goes back to prison.The main thing I'd like to addr [...]

    24. In the Belly of the Beast: Letters From Prison by Jack Henry Abbott (Random House 1981) (Biography). In the 1970's author Norman Mailer was working with convicted killer Gary Gilmore on a book about Gilmore's life and prison experiences. Jack Henry Abbott, who was himself serving time in prison for murder, wrote to Mailer and offered to correspond with the author about Abbott's experiences in prison to clear up Gilmore's exaggeration. Abbott became a protege of Mailer; In the Belly of the Beast: [...]

    25. This is a book that may dazzle you if you don't know the whole story. At the outset this guy seems a champion; he wrote a scathing indictment of the American penal system while held incarcerated deep in its very bowels. Sent to the 'pen for forgery, manslaughter and bank robbery. He is the kind of guy we all want to cheer for, an underdog. Unfairly imprisoned! He is not just a typical felon, he can write novels!This speaks to the American spirit.Next? So, during the course of his term, he writes [...]

    26. A very interesting memoir of prison life. It's self-pitying and self-serving and some of it is probably embellished. But overall it's well-written and provides some really interesting insights into prison life and into the mind of someone who was almost certainly mentally ill. The Marxism stuff is generally banal and humorously outdated (he writes on a few occasions of how near the worldwide Communist revolution is and how the Soviet Union really isn't all that bad a place to be). However, the c [...]

    27. I don't know how to describe this book was interesting and informative (in parts), but it was also repetitive and boring (in parts). It was heartfelt and honest and raw, but also preachy and one sided. It is odd reading a book that is culled together from a series of letters, but you are only reading one side of the conversation, it feels as if something is missing. It also felt choppy and disjointed at parts, probably due to the way it was assembled, different passages from different sections o [...]

    28. WHOOOO. This book is crazy. Abbot was locked up when he saw that Norman Mailer had been writing about Gary Gilmore, who was a convicted serial killer. Abbot wrote Mailer, saying he could offer the literary hotshot better insight into prison life. Long story short, Abbott wrote often to Mailer, and this book is a collection of that correspondence. Crazy thing is: Mailer helped Abbott with his parole only to have Abbott kill a waiter at his book party!

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