Lippert was thrown into the bowels of the Michigan Department of Corrections as a seventeen-year-old adolescent. He remained entrenched in a world of malfeasance for the next forty years. With astonishing honesty, he reveals the raw details of what a life of incarceration looks like from the inside. His observations of human behavior and his stellar ability to tell a story reveal the courage and resilience of a man who has survived horrifying and savage injustice. These are stories of miscreants and corrupt institutions. They are tales of men who have made poor choices and suffered grave consequences.
His tales of the criminal counterculture are sometimes tragic, but often humorous and redemptive. Through it all, he displays a sly sense of humor and the quiet wisdom of a man who is, ultimately, a survivor. Lippert’s journey has been one of an unrequited longing for freedom. This book is a resonant journey through the geography of a resilient soul.
Phil Lippert is a man who has lived a most unconventional life. Thrown into prison at the age of seventeen, Lippert, who served a forty-year stretch, has viewed the world from a position most people only know from fictionalized Hollywood treatments.
His collection of short stories offers readers a glimpse inside that world. Though mostly fiction, these tales contain a thread of truth concerning human nature. Lippert’s style is laidback and easygoing. He knows how to tell a story that holds the reader spellbound, waiting for something like redemption for these characters that might otherwise seem unworthy.
He narrates as Dude, an inmate who collects stories of life as lived by others. Some are humorous and hopeful. Others fall into a darker place where hope falters before it has a chance to find its own legs.
My favorite is the heartbreaking “Good Night, Ruby Slippers” with its darker shades mingled with streaks of light. “A Canticle for Frank” reads like a cold-war thriller mixed with prison intrigue. “My Summer Vacation” tells the story of a young bank robber. Each piece introduces unforgettable characters that often seem both familiar and other-worldly.
This is a solid collection from a promising writer with plenty to say. It’s one I’ll likely return to from time to time.