Orange is the New Black

So yesterday, spurred on by curiosity (and that pitch perfect Marie Claire snippet from the book…that ends just as she’s going to prison!) I perused Piper Kerman’s Orange is the New Black, about her year in a prison in Danbury. The funny thing about the book is that Kerman got busted for drug muling-at-24, but she had to wait six years after initially getting busted about ten years after drug-running to end up serving her time, as the system needed her out and free in order to bust the kingpin.

In the intermin, she met a magazine editor, Larry Smith (who started Smith magazine and is likely doing great with all those six word memoir books, right?) and the results are sort of interesting: Smith got two Modern Love columns out of their relationship, and Kerman got a book deal with Julie Grau herself as editor. Now I know that was likely an awful and terrifying time in their lives, but the results are all so calculated, in a way.

This Slate article on it gets it spot-on when it slates it (ha) with books about dilettante strippers, alcoholics, and dominatrixes. I would say the book is similar, in some ways to Diablo Cody’s Candy Girl, light and diverting and lacking a certain amount of soul. Or the dilettante stripper book Bare by Elisabeth Eaves, where she talks about being at the Lusty Lady and then needs to go to an actual straight-up strip joint to improve her story. Again, it lacks soul. I wish Kerman’s book didn’t; but not every book is Newjack.*

(Also: a grumble, but dude - don’t say you went to Smith for school and are bisexual in the first act and then spend your whole time in prison talking about your awesome dude! That is the exact opposite of Chekov’s gun. Exact opposite. Perhaps I would’ve liked this book better as gritty fiction, instead of nice white lady memoir.)

* Actually, there’s something interesting about gritty-investigative-reporting-classic Newjack vs. the dumb title Orange is the New Black lady prison thing. Oh how I wish this happened to someone who was an amazing writer!
** Shame Sady Doyle’s off tumblr, as far as I can tell, because I want to know her opinion!