During their stints as prison teachers, John Waters screened Pink Flamingos and Avi Steinberg screened Shakespeare. But both shared the experience of listening to the harrowing stroies told by inmates, which started churning their creative minds. Waters used the experience to influence his later work, while Steinberg used it to shape his literary debut, Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, then, that Waters named the memoir as the last great book he read during the Miami Book Fair. (For the record, we’re still pleased as punch, while Avi admits on his Facebook page that he can die now.)
Steinberg’s book follows the two years he spent working at the Suffolk County House of Correction in Massachusetts, while trying to escape the expectations of his religious upbringing and Ivy League education. The New York Times calls it “acidly funny. Mr. Steinberg proves to be a keen observer, and a morally serious one. His memoir is wriggling and alive — as involving, and as layered, as a good coming-of-age novel.” John Waters and Dwight Garner — we’re pretty sure that covers it! But if you need to see a few more endorsements, you can find them here (along with links to more reviews and interviews).