A True Story of Life in the Hole
Harper Collins Canada
Trade Paperback/274 pages
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"How he . . . survived his life in "the hole" is deftly detailed . . ."
"Dub? is truly a gifted writer, evoking strong emotions . . ."
". . . story "glamorizes" the tough guy experience . . ."
Ritchy Dubé, an overly aggressive, young, drunk punk with a mean hook, left a casual acquaintance dead on a hotel room floor which landed him in prison. How he mentally and physically survived his life in "the hole" is deftly detailed in his jail house memoir, The Haven.
Readers will be hard pressed to find a stronger work of creative non-fiction on the shelves these days. Dubé doesn''t pull any punches when it comes to describing the God-awful horror of the maximum security prison that housed him for over seven years of his young life. The narrative masterfully paints a picture of the overpowering paranoia that feeds on the minds of those incarcerated. The reader is tugged kicking and screaming inside the mind of Ritchy, a young killer, who is filled with overwhelming anger at the Canadian justice system and eager to seek revenge against the "screws" (guards) and the judges and lawyers who helped put him behind bars. Dubé is truly a gifted writer, evoking strong emotions without garnering undue pity for the creature he once was when he dwelled behind the endless gray concrete walls and barb wire fences.
If anything, Dubé''s writing is almost "too good." His story "glamorizes" the tough guy experience of life at Millhaven Penitentiary at times, making him seem almost super-heroic. For all the wonderful probing through prose of his diseased mind, his narrative doesn''t stress enough how he could have avoided winding up addicted to drugs, alcohol and violence in the first place. The reader is anxious to see how Ritchy will redeem his sorry condition in the pen, but, alas, it is only in the epilogue that we learn he did eventually turn his life around and now helps others avoid the same traps. Still, The Haven is a powerful story that could only be told by one who has survived a true hell on earth.
Reviewer: Cindy Appel