Education of a Felon: A Memoir
Education of a Felon: A Memoir
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In Education of a Felon, the reigning champion of prison novelists finally tells his own story. The son of an alcoholic stagehand father and a Busby Berkeley chorus girl, Bunker was--at seventeen--the youngest inmate ever in San Quentin. His hard-won experiences on L.A.'s meanest streets and in and out of prison gave him the material to write some of the grittiest and most affecting novels of our time.
From smoking a joint in the gas chamber to leaving fingerprints on a knife connected to a serial kiler, from Hollywood's steamy undersde to swimming in the Neptune pool at San Simeon, Bunker delivers a memoir as colorful as any of his novels and as compelling as the life he's lead.
prisons, although not yet in Folsom. San Quentin had a serious riot a year earlier, and racial wars had erupted in Tracy, Soledad, and San Quentin. In the bright morning light, I stop and look around. I don’t want to stumble upon one of my few enemies. He might think it was a sneak attack and retaliate. The yard is mainly a square, though part of it wraps around #1 Building to a handball court, weight-lifting area, two outdoor television sets, and a marble ring. Marbles are gambled on like pool.
I believe that anyone who doesn’t read remains dumb. Even if they know how, failing to regularly ingest the written word dooms them to ignorance, no matter what else they have or do. At 8:00 P.M., a bell rings. Typewriters fall silent. Perhaps someone would ask someone nearby, “Did you get a score on the Dodger game?” There is no boisterous noise or prolonged conversations—not behind the screen in Folsom Prison where at least half the men would never see a day beyond the walls. Most wanted you
shoes, which were kept in an open-faced locker. They gave me my jumpsuit and shoes and opened the door to the yard. It was formed by the walls of the Adjustment Center on two sides and the massive pile of concrete of #2 Cell House. The ground was all concrete. There were no guards on the ground, but high up on #2 Cell House was a rifleman with a cradled carbine. He kept order with his gun. I had to move across a red line some distance from the door before starting to put on my clothes. I was the
worked occasionally after the arrival of sound, although by then she was the wife of Hal B. Wallis and had no financial need to act in a movie. When I once spotted an Oscar for Best Picture for Casablanca, Louise told me the tale. At one time Hal had run the Warner Brothers studio and the brothers Warner “loved him like a son,” or so Mrs. Wallis said. A decade and some thereafter, the brothers Warner and Hal Wallis divorced with bile and acrimony. At the Academy Awards of 1942 or ’43, when “Best
knew, said I would do two and a half to three years. One ex-con thought it would be less, maybe eighteen months, but wiser men said it would be more—the adult authorities were hard on ADW. Al Matthews had given up, but Mrs. Wallis wanted me to put her on my mail and visiting list. I was so blasé when the judge passed sentence that I was cleaning my fingernails and winking at the buxom Italian sisters Wedo had brought to court. He eventually married one of them and had two children; then he, too,