Following the insanely great news that the West Memphis Three are finally released (if you’re unfamiliar with the case, I suggest you check out wm3.org or watch the HBO documentary Paradise Lost ), this week’s recommended book is Damien Echols’ (1974-) autobiography Almost Home (2005).
Almost Home was written on Death Row in an Arkansas prison, and it chronicles Echols’ life from birth to the present (well, 2004/5 at least). It is an intelligent and very well written account of a young man in search of identity, and the tragic events which led to his imprisonment. It highlights how in an intolerant society, the outsider easily becomes the scapegoat.
I read this book when it first came out several years ago, and it affected me greatly. Now, with its author safely out of prison (as he was 18 at the time of the murders, he was the only of the three who was sentenced to death), it is very much due for a reread.
Additionally, I recommend the aforementioned documentary Paradise Lost – it may be slightly in the Michael Moore school of documentary-making (i.e. it occasionally overstates some facts while underplaying others), but despite that, its well worth a watch, and I dare you not to let the American judicial system (at least in this case) provoke and anger you.
PS. For the record, I do believe the boys were wrongly imprisoned, and that the real killer got away with it.