—Jaimy Gordon, author of the National Book Award winning novel Lord of Misrule
“Curtis Dawkins draws from his direct experience to paint a picture of jailhouse life in all its grimness. He conveys the repulsive mixture of boredom, stupidity, filthiness, meanness and chronic anxiety that is the prisoner's lot. The inmates are dysfunctional, the structure that houses them authoritarian. This book will scare you straight—or should. But within their cages, Dawkins' prisoners dream—of criminal schemes, drugs, women—and an American world outside the walls. Their avid fantasies burn with a furious light against the bleak institutional background, exploding with ingenuity, pathos and rebellion. In many cases, these outsiders are, like Dawkins himself, artists.
—Atticus Lish, author of Preparation for the Next Life
“The Graybar Hotel is unlike any other short story collection I’ve ever read. Dawkins’ cast of characters are forever longing for escape—escape from prison, escape from their past, escape from freedom, even. And when the escape is successful, when one reality is traded for another, Dawkins’ characters find themselves lost, even pining for what they had in the first place. The Graybar Hotel is not a “prison book.” It is a mirror, held up to our culture of incarceration. It is a testament, a testimony that the people inside prison are as much Americans, as much citizens as their guards, parole officers, and wardens, that there is no outside, that prisons are as much America as pubs, playgrounds, or parks. There is a current of electricity running through this book, a shocking voltage of truth. What an authentic and rare book The Graybar Hotel is.”
—Nickolas Butler, internationally bestselling author of Shotgun Lovesongs, Beneath the Bonfire, and The Hearts of Men