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Memos from Purgatory de Harlan Ellison

Memos from Purgatory (original: 1961; edição: 1975)

de Harlan Ellison

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Harlan Ellison was barely out of his teens when he took a phony name, moved into Brooklyn's dangerous Red Hook section and managed to con his way into a "bopping club." This autobiography takes you into a violent underground world.
Título:Memos from Purgatory
Autores:Harlan Ellison
Informação:Jove Books (1975), Paperback
Coleções:Sua biblioteca

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Memos From Purgatory de Harlan Ellison (1961)


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For ten weeks in 1954, then twenty-year-old writer Harlan Ellison adopted the alias of teenager Phil “Cheech” Beldone and joined a NYC street gang called the Barons all in the name of research—an endeavor that nearly cost Ellison his life on more than one occasion, from the gang initiation ritual to the final savage, bloody rumble against a rival gang in Prospect Park.

Fast-forward seven years to 1961 when Ellison attended a gathering in NYC and encountered an old “friend” named Ken Bales to whom Ellison had loaned a typewriter—which Bales promptly hocked. While at the party, Ellison took the opportunity to demand compensation from Bales. A few days later, two detectives arrived at Ellison’s apartment based on an anonymous report of drug parties and illegal weapons. Was Bales the caller? Ellison seemed to suspect as much.

Known for this vociferous anti-drug lifestyle, Ellison explained to the detectives that there were no illegal narcotics in his apartment and the weapons, taken from a street gang, were now used as part of his popular lectures on juvenile delinquency. After allowing the detectives to search his apartment, Ellison is relieved to learn that no charges will be filed for narcotics—but they will have to arrest him on possession of an unregistered firearm, as a .22 caliber pistol was among the gang weapons.

Thus begins the second part of this memoir—Ellison’s vivid and dramatic description of his 24 hours in jail. Here is where the narrative runs longer than necessary and I can understand how many readers consider it whiny.

Memos from Purgatory is an unflinching, up-close-and-personal examination of street gangs and the callous NYC legal system of the times. It was one of Harlan Ellison’s bestselling books for nearly 25 years. While the material is obviously dated, the color of Ellison’s honest and raw narrative has not faded. I think the same can be said for most of his work.

Of course, what Harlan Ellison book would be complete with an expository introduction? In this case, my 1983 ACE paperback edition contains three intros, one written for this book and two from each previous printing. Ellison’s commentaries are nearly as enjoyable his stories! ( )
  pgiunta | Jun 19, 2017 |
well worth reading, as is anything by Harlan Ellison, this is a memoir centring on his arrest for having an unregistered handgun dating from his stint writing about gangs in New York, probably for "Hustler"magazine. In my opinion the Magazine was far inferior to it's stringer, and the time spent within these pages will amply repay the reader. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jan 6, 2016 |
Laughably bad. The self-congratulatory introductions, the unbelievably cheesy opening chapters, the likely bogus gang stuff; there's all that. THEN comes "The Tombs". Ellison went to jail. For a day. A DAY. And thought it merited 90 pages of whining such as you would not BELIEVE.

The name Boethius came to mind while reading this, for two reasons. The first is that some of the passages in the book read just like passages from Ignatius Reilly's notebook. Take this, for example:

'The guards shoved them forward roughly, though not with any real brutality, despite the fact that one old man screamed like a chicken, "Keep your fuckin' hands offen me, hack!"

That was my first occasion to hear the prison slang word for guard used. From that moment on, I thought of them as "hacks" also. After all, wasn't I one of the boys?'

Good lord. I mean it goes on like that. It's the most embarrassing book I've ever read. He seemed to have no idea of reality while writing it, or of how it would read.

The second reason it reminded me of Boethius is because Boethius went to prison and was executed, brutally executed, on a bogus charge. While in prison awaiting his execution he wrote a work of philosophical literature that is widely read to this day. Ellison went to jail for a day, mistakenly, and it produced an embarrassingly bad book of whining.

If these two meet in any kind of afterlife, I hope Boethius punches Ellison in the mouth. ( )
  tannerpw3 | Jan 26, 2007 |
In 1954, Harlan Ellison moved to the Red Hook section of Brooklyn with the intent of joining a street gang, research for his next tome. His experiences as "Cheech" Beldone, from his ritual deflowering of one of the Baron Debs to an Indian knife fight with a fellow Baron, are harrowing and disturbing images of gang life in the 50's. Although the "when you're a Jet, you're a Jet" ideals are now "cute" compared to gang life in the new millennium, it's still horrifying. Memos From Purgatory is actually two books in one; Book One:The Gang deals with his gang life, while Book Two: The Tombs is an account of an occurrence six years later in which Ellison spends 24 hours in New York's jail system. Set up and tipped off to the police by a disgruntled acquaintance, Ellison is held on weapons possession (stemming from the weapons from his gang days that he used as display on his lecture tours about the book). It's at this point Memos From Purgatory loses me. Whine, whine, whine. That's all Ellison does in this second half. He does admit that there are those out there who would question his frenzied reaction at being incarcerated for only 24 hours (and acting like it's 24 years), and I suppose I'm one of them. The whole time I was reading Book Two: The Tombs, I kept thinking, "Man, Ellison, calm down." He gives a good overview of the miserable conditions of jail in the Big City and the screwed-up judicial system that accompanies it, but the overreacting is just too much. I heartily hand it to Ellison for having the nerve to join a street gang and write about it, but Book One: The Gang should have stood on its own. Book Two: The Tombs seems a senseless afterthought, more so when Ellison admits that the inclusion of a one-in-a-million chance meeting with the head of the Barons, a fellow jailbird, was a fictional device suggested by the original publisher because he felt there wasn't enough linkage between the two halves of the book. Well, there still isn't. ( )
  reverends | Jul 13, 2006 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Harlan Ellisonautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Dillon, DianeArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Dillon, LeoArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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Harlan Ellison was barely out of his teens when he took a phony name, moved into Brooklyn's dangerous Red Hook section and managed to con his way into a "bopping club." This autobiography takes you into a violent underground world.

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