Thanks to Net Galley and Scribner for the digital review copy – all opinions are my own.
When a book stays with you long after you’ve read the last sentence, you know you’ve found a good one! I read The Graybar Hotel by Curtis Dawkins in less than 24 hours and have spend the last 24 hours ruminating on the collection of short stories.
We have a maximum security prison that sits just outside of our town; it’s like a city on a hill. On the darkest of nights, you can see the orange glow of the prison lights illuminating the bottom side of the clouds. When you walk into the local stores, you are constantly met by men and women in their correctional officer uniforms. The prison is never far from the minds of this town’s .
As I watched the fireworks explode over town last night, I thought about the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of this country. I was free to sit on a grassy hilltop to enjoy the cool breeze and the beautiful explosions of color. I was free to hold my children tight – to watch their faces as the pops of colors changed from red, to white, to blue. And out of the corner of my eye, I saw that orange glow and immediately thought about the men inside that weren’t enjoying these same freedoms. Could they see the fireworks from their small window to the outside world? Or were they too far away? Or were they on the wrong side of the building?
My thoughts quickly turned to the stories in The Graybar Hotel. While the stories are a collection of fictional stories, I couldn’t help but think that there’s got to be a lot of truth within those sentences, too. Dawkins humanized his characters and managed to instill a sense of empathy and compassion for the men and women who spend their days and nights behind bars. The reader is introduced to many characters – Mickey, Peanut, Mo – who stitch themselves right onto your heartstrings.
The writing is lovely, and I’m looking forward to future writings from Dawkins. At the end of the book, he states that all proceeds from the sales of this book will be put into his children’s college funds. There’s something I really admire in that – even though he’s away, he’s doing his best to be supportive of his family (in a good and honorable way too, I might add).
The Graybar Hotel was released yesterday, so hurry and grab a copy and start reading this one soon!