From Publishers Weekly
Canadian Harvey's spare, terse and intense novel is about the outside, as in outside of prison. The story focuses on the bitter, ruined life of Mr. Myrden (his first name is conspicuously omitted) and begins as Myrden is consumed by a phalanx of reporters as he leaves the prison gates on his first morning of freedom after serving 14 years for a murder he didn't commit. (DNA evidence belatedly cleared him.) Harvey (The Town That Forgot How to Breathe
) examines the minutiae of how the former inmate deals with being on the outside, where so much has changed: his wife has left him, his children have grown (Myrden is now a grandfather), his friends have changed in unexpected ways, and he reconnects with a long-lost love. His attorneys arrange a substantial settlement that leaves Myrden and his wife more than $1 million (she's suddenly less estranged when money's involved), but the windfall is anything but a blessing, as Myrden soon discovers. Harvey's prose is startlingly economical and plain (One fast action. Release. Noise and flash) and gives the reader immediate access to Myrden's inner conflicted reticence. In the end, it's tough to tell which is crueler: prison or the outside. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
After 14 years in prison, Myrden is released when DNA evidence clears him of murder. A substantial settlement stands to make him a wealthy man, but spending almost a third of his life in prison, and returning to the same poor, sometimes brutal, and ignorant neighborhood he grew up in, will surely take a toll. Only his young granddaughter and a chance meeting with a woman he knew years ago offer him a chance at some kind of happiness, but the lurching march to further tragedy seems inevitable. Inside is a demanding and difficult read. The story is told almost entirely with one-, two-, and three-word sentences that hint at what Myrden is thinking as he reacts to the worldand the peoplehe confronts after 14 years behind bars. Some of his thoughts are insightful; others simply don't make sense. And yet, despite being a largely inchoate character, Myrden tells us much about the psychological effects of incarceration. Difficult, yes, but this is also a rewarding and grimly compelling novel. Gaughan, Thomas