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Flashback Thursday - Book Review - You Got Nothing Coming

My review from Augut 23, 2004

My sister introduced me to this book by Jimmy Lerner called "You Got Nothing Coming."

Here's the gist of it, but this little snippet doesn't do the book justice.

A memoir of astonishing power–the true story of a middle-class, middle-aged man who fell into the Inferno of the American prison system, and what he has to do to survive.

It is your worst nightmare. You wake up in an 8' x 6' concrete-and-steel cell designated "Suicide Watch #3." The cell is real. Jimmy Lerner, formerly a suburban husband and father, and corporate strategic planner and survivor, is about to become a prison "fish," or green new arrival. Taken to a penitentiary in the Nevada desert to begin serving a twelve-year term for voluntary manslaughter, this once nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn ends up sharing a claustrophobic cell with Kansas, a hugely muscled skinhead with a swastika engraved on his neck and a serious set of issues. And if he dares complain, the guards will bluntly tell him, "You got nothing coming

The author basically kills his neighbor/friend during a brutal fight in Las Vegas. I think, at least from Mr. Lerner's point of view, this was a clear case of self-defense and he might have missed the prison time if he had gone for the jury trial. I know I would have found for him. The whole last section of the book is about how he met this man, he calls by the pseudonym "Dwayne" and how scary their relationship is pretty much from the start. Since Mr. Lerner has his own demons, (newly divorced, post-op pain and addiction to pain killers, alcoholism) it's more understandable how he can make some of the big lapses in judgment in his relationship with Dwayne.

But my sister and I enjoyed the book because of Mr. Lerner's wonderful wit and sense of humor. Coming from a big corporate background and all of the training that goes with that career choice, Mr. Lerner finds that much of what he learned is quite useful in surviving in the Nevada Prison system. Who knew!!??

The other enjoyable part of the book is how he masters the jail lingo! "You Got Nothing Coming" means just that, no privileges , no niceties, nothing. Sometimes you got something coming - but it ain't nothing nice. That could mean anything from extended kitchen duty to a gang rape.

Basically this is the kind of book that makes you laugh out loud in places because it's just so funny. But it's not for the faint of heart. If you are easily offended by profanity (this is a prison memoir after all)its not for you. Probably not for any under 18 without a parent's OK either.

The book got me wondering how Mr. Lerner is now. He is 52 and got parole in 2002, living in Florida. A sister of the victim was suing for some of the profits of the book but I couldn't find out how that turned out, so if anyone finds out, feel free to pass it alone.