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The Midnight Express Letters: From a Turkish Prison 1970-1975 Paperback – March 1, 2013


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About the Author

Billy Hayes has been writing, speaking, acting, and directing in theater, film, and television since his escape in 1975. He lives with his wife, Wendy, in Los Angeles, still practices yoga daily, and appreciates every sweet, magical moment. For more information, please go to www.billyhayes.com.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Curly Brains Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0988981432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0988981430
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,596,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Billy Hayes has been writing, speaking, acting, and directing since the best-selling book he wrote about his experience of survival and escape from a Turkish prison, "Midnight Express", was made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1978. His other books include "The Midnight Express Letters", and the sequel, "Midnight Return".

Locked Up Abroad, the National Geographic series, shared Hayes' story in 2010 with a new worldwide audience, and in 2013 Peter Schaufuss presented his powerful ballet version of Midnight Express at the London Coliseum, reaching yet another audience. Hayes is currently touring his one-man show, Riding the Midnight Express, which premiered at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Hayes has acted extensively in film, theater, and television, and is a member of the Actors' Studio West Playwright/Director Unit. He's especially proud of the Best Actor Award (L.A. Weekly) for his 2006 performance in the Samuel Beckett tribute, Shuffle, Shuffle, Step. He directed both the play and feature film (starring Brian Austin Green) versions of the critically acclaimed and award-winning Cock & Bull Story. Other directing credits include the award-winning William Inge play The Last Pad, produced by Amnesty International; The Cage, at NYC's Neighborhood Group Theater; and the L.A. Production of the Year (L.A. Weekly), Washington Square Moves, for which the NAACP honored Hayes with a Best Director nomination.

As an artist member of Inside Out, Hayes used theater skills therapeutically with both at-risk youth and disturbed, incarcerated patients in a hospital setting. He has also shared the lessons of his life experience mentoring homeless youths at the L.A. Free Clinic, and in extensive speaking engagements across North America.

Hayes is devoted to his daily yoga practice, and to his wife, Wendy.

For more information, including video clips, go to www.billyhayes.com.

Customer Reviews

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Having read the book Midnight Express, then the sequel Midnight Returns and having seen the movie, I thought I knew everything there was to know about Billy Hayes. But not so. This book allows you to look and read into his feelings about how he had to deal with the strain of imprisonment, the pain and devastation he knew he caused his family with his foolish act and arrest, the disappointments and frustrations he had to endure with dealings within the Turkish legal system.

There were still quite a few things I hadn't known before....first that the High Court in Ankara actually wanted to give him the life/30 year sentence from the beginning but the lower courts in Istanbul kept giving him four years until Ankara finally put its foot down and extended Billy's term to life for which the Istanbul court could only lower it to no less to 30 years.

Also the transfer back to an American prison that his U.S. lawyer Mike Griffith and others had been working on to get for him in the next two years since he was resentenced was far from a sure thing. Relations between the Turks and U.S. were still overly strained (and I'm sure the controversy over Billy's case in both countries didn't do anything to improve them either) and the continuing instability of the Turkish government, plus other international disagreements between the two nations more than once stalled negotiations in Billy's case.

Billy and his lawyers had also tried other legal options to secure his release, which included requesting a special pardon (which was rejected by the country's Minister of Justice on grounds that Billy did not meet the legal standards under Turkish law to be eligible for a pardon).
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Format: Paperback
The letters Billy Hayes wrote while imprisoned in Turkey were used to outline and write his renowned memoir, Midnight Express, a beacon of the prison drama genre. Letters From a Turkish Prison and Midnight Express are, however, different reading experiences. Letters is not only the raw source material; it lays bare the raw emotions of the moment, of many moments, of five years incarcerated.

While Midnight Express is a brilliant memoir with a perfect story arc, an impossibly resilient hero, and an exciting climax, Letters From a Turkish Prison reveals what is between the lines. Taken together, the two books show us the entirety of Hayes's experience.

Included in Letters are letters to Hayes's girlfriend, friends, and parents. The letters he received while in prison are absent, a scorching analogy to the way life is lost while in prison.

The letters to each recipient differ in content. They also differ in tone for years until Hayes becomes more withdrawn into, and disturbed by, his imprisonment. At the start, Hayes uses the sort of language one would expect of a literate man in his 20s. As prison time drags on, and Hayes waits--for word of his sentence, through thoughts and plans of escape, Turkish lawyers hired, Americans contacted for help, and the extreme challenge of living in prison--he changes; his letters change. His emotions become more intense and less patient. His letters take on a more desperate and obsessive tone. Buddies/romance/"folks" turns darker: "Why haven't you written?" is a refrain to one friend (Marc); how to get him released is a refrain to his parents; sexy longing turns to intense near-envy to his girlfriend.

Waiting.
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By OzGirl on July 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are a fan of the book and/or movie "Midnight Express" (and even if you aren't) this is a close look at a young man incarcerated for five years in a Turkish prison. The book consists of the actual letters written by Billy Hayes to his family and friends.

Each letter gives insight into his unique relationship with each person in his life and into his mind and experiences. The first heartbreaking letter is to his parents letting them know what a nightmare he has walked into. As a Mom myself I felt how painful this would be to hear and as a daughter I could also empathise with Billy's guilt and sorrow knowing how much this news would hurt them. As you continue to read his letters to his parents you also see how much information he holds back (in comparison to letters to his friends and girlfriend) to spare them from more worry.
His letters to his girlfriend, Barbara, were the most intimate glimpse at Billy's heart and I was surprised at how poetic and lyrical some of his words are. It was also interesting to me that his interest in yoga, meditation and spiritual reflection helped him keep his grasp on sanity and some moments of tranquility during an awful experience. The biggest feeling that comes across in these letters is "waiting." Waiting for news, waiting for hoped for words from lawyers waiting for letters from friends, waiting for some good news. Waiting for hope that is always delayed. Waiting as Billy is aware that time is passing away in hours and years out of his young life. I saw his emotions become darker and more intense and this book become more painful to read toward the end. All in all this was a fascinating read and a close look at endurance of the human heart.
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