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Doing Time Outside Paperback – July 31, 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Doing Time Outside refers to the painful and difficult period of time spent by a family member or friend of a person incarcerated in a correctional facility... Ms. Howard carves a slice of time out of the Morletti family’s world. Each individual―mother, son, and daughter―is in some way damaged; each individual is in some way brimming with resilience…(The author) writes as if she’s creating a mosaic―laying down each piece of stone as snippets from life―each snippet being told from a different point of view until an image of a family is slowly created. The final image isn’t always pretty, but it’s intriguing and charming, and formed with humor and love. .. Doing Time Outside is an emotional and engaging slice of life. It’s well worth doing time with this family."--Karen Winter Schwartz, New York Journal of Books

About the Author

Ginnah Howard's stories have appeared in Water- Stone Review, Permafrost, Portland Review, Descant 145, ELEVEN ELEVEN, Stone Canoe and elsewhere. Several have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her first novel, Night Navigation (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2009), was a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice. It also won a Media award from the National Alliance on Mental Illnessof New York State. Most recently, she is the author of DOING TIME OUTSIDE (Standing Stone Books, 2013).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 315 pages
  • Publisher: Standing Stone Books (July 31, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983617236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983617235
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,450,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Doing Time Outside" is a book that enfolded me in a world that, fortunately, I could have never imagined. I learned that living with and loving a person who is mentally ill, drug addicted and often incarcerated is heart wrenching. Howard's characters are so well-drawn that one has sympathy for each one of them. A grandmother who never stops believing in spite of all evidence to the contrary, a mother who never stops loving an unlovable son, a sister who tries to separate herself from all the drama and a good and talented man who struggles against all the temptations in life. But, Howard never "sugar-coats" the realities. The book is funny, real, gritty and hard to put down. Her pervious book, "Night Navigation" is equally as good and both books hurt your heart. Howard is a gifted storyteller who brings us into a world that many of us will hopefully never know.
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Format: Paperback
Having read Ginnah Howard's previous book in a trilogy (Night Navigation: A Novel-- though reading it is not necessary to understand "Doing Time Outside") I was happy to be able to follow up on these characters' lives, at last. The author expertly conveys the anxiety and fear the women feel for the ne'er-do-well young man in their family, but their interaction with the grandmother character adds humor and softens the edges of a potentially heartbreaking chain of events. I read this in two sittings and would have finished it in one had work and sleep not intervened.

The characters are complex and multi-dimensional, and their actions were often surprising rather than predictable. Living near the area where the novel is set they seemed like people I might know. The author rendered her characters with compassion and endeared them to me as she probed their predicament, and she had me rooting for them as they sought a way forward, individually and as a family.
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Format: Paperback
Even if you've never visited anyone in prison, Ginna Howard's novel will make you feel that each detail of the routine has been hammered into your heart a hundred repetitions ago, so that the current iteration seems expressly designed to dampen the last sputtering flicker of hope you've been secretly guarding pretending even to yourself that it's not there, because you know you don't have the strength to face how you'll feel when it's finally gone. The artificiality of the language posted on the visitation walls. The rules that will never once be bent in your favor for a human reason, only arbitrarily abandoned at the caprice of apparently irrational, if not downright hostile, demigods.

Howard's title refers to the fact that for every person doing time inside, there's a whole network of souls doing the same time on the other side of the walls. In the case of troubled young Rudy Morletti, his mother Carla still sees him as her beautiful baby and will always find a way to manufacture bail money out of the disability check that never in the best of times comes close to covering her own extremely basic needs. Rudy's sister Tess is left to hold the cold fury of wishing the man could finally step up and take responsibility, and to hold the huge weight of the unlikelihood he ever will, once, even a little.

I don't know how this novel will land on you, but it left me having to fight my way out of it, tell myself this is not my life. I get to go to work today and not wait for the prison phone collect robot call. Rudy can't drag me down. The way a dream can be hard to shake off all day, even though none of it actually happened to you, this novel can be really difficult to pull yourself out of, even though you can pay your heat bill, your son isn't in this pain.
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Format: Paperback
Since I loved Ginnah Howard's Night Navigation,I was keen to get my hands on Doing Time Outside. Although this book is not dependent on the previous one, it deals loosely with the same characters, and on the continued challenges of what a mother, primarily, but sister and grandmother, too, do to deal with the fact of a bi-polar, drug-addicted son/brother/grandson who, in turn, must deal with his family. What carries the book is a relentless attention to detail to each character--good, funny and bad--so that through their highly individualized and colloquial dialogue, they become real enough for each reader to recognize and empathize with. Ms. Howard clearly does her research, so that whether placing us in a prison cell with Rudy, the son, at the prison phone booth where he tries to make expensive calls within hearing of bullying inmates, in the police station's reception area with his family, or within the bureaucracies of the prison system, we are empathizing with each character's inner dialogues and feelings in every scene. She tells us about the workings of a sawmill, research into chimpanzees, the rhythms of working in a bar and, always, the interactions of frail humans needing a break and steering away from trouble, when possible. Doing Time Ouside is a memorable read and great tribute to the talents of the author.
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Format: Paperback
I mostly read poetry, but every so often a novel comes my way that I can't put down. Ginnah Howard's second novel Doing Time is a heart-opening and thoroughly enjoyable true-to-life read. It was wonderful to meet again some of the characters from her first novel, Night Navigation. The Morlettis--Carla, Carla's daughter Tess, her incarcerated bipolar son Rudy, their grandma--are each so fully realized, I kept feeling like I've known them for years, and often exchange news with them at the grocery or post office. I kept slowing down my reading to enjoy the many delicious small moments that revealed the heart of each character--even those tangential to the main events. When Carla opens up the bar and Willy Jones is already there waiting for her--her thoughts about him, her essential kindness, their simple conversation that leads Carla to memories of her mother and her childhood were so naturally revealed, I felt like I was comfortably inhabiting each character's heads. My experiences with my own mentally ill brother proved to me that all of Tess's responses to her brother's words and moods were spot-on. One of the primary gifts of this novel is that the reader is privileged to accompany the characters on their stumbling difficult paths and encouraged to view their common human dilemmas through truly loving and compassionate eyes.
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