RARA-AVIS: RE: Ex-con writers

From: Michael Chong ( mchong@ytv.com)
Date: 01 May 2000

Chester Himes did, I believe, seven years for armed robbery. He was inside when he started to consider writing seriously. Influenced by Hammett's work in Black Mask, and novels such as Sanctuary by Faulkner, Himes began to write short fiction. His first novel, Cast the First Stone, was recently published in an unexpurgated form under the title Yesterday Will Make You Cry. The novel was based on his experiences inside. However, the protagonist was white.

A prison fire, which was the basis for both a short story and a pivotal scene in the novel, was a catalyst to his needing an escape from the walls around him. Himes chose writing...

He never went back inside and died in Spain in 1984.

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