Stephen Reid has grown old in prison and seen more than his share of its solitude, its vicious cycles, and its subculture relationships. He has participated in the economics of contraband, the incredible escapes, the intimacies of torture, the miscarriages of justice, and witnessed the innocent souls whose childhood destinies doomed them to prison life. He has learned that everything is bearable, that the painful separation of family, children, and friend is tolerable, and that sorrow must be kept close, buried in a secret garden of the self, if one is to survive and give others who love you hope. Within his writing runs the motif that his prison life has never been far from his drug additions, but the junkie or drunk who has some straight time and means to stay that way knows a lot about the way we really live, think, feel, hope, and desire in this country. Each of the essays in this collection is a recognition of how Reid’s imprisonment has shaped his life. Some describe his fractured boyhood and the escalation in crimes that led to his imprisonment, others detail the seductive rush and notoriety of the criminal life. There are the regrets too of how his choices have impacted the lives of his daughters, wife and family. But in each essay the refrain is “prison life”, whether it is measuring the integrity of the books in the prison library, the violence and primal intimidation inherent in all-male communities, or the torment and solace of solitary confinement.
A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden
ISBN: 9781927068366 Categories: Literary Collections, Non-fiction, Essays Tags: Canadian oputlaws, Stopwatch Gang
About the Author
Stephen Reid began writing in 1984 while serving a twenty-one-year prison sentence for his role as a member of the “Stopwatch Gang”, so named for their ability to rob banks and armoured cars in less than two minutes. During his sentence, he submitted a manuscript to Susan Musgrave, then writer-in-residence at the University of Waterloo. This developed into an ongoing correspondence, and Reid and Musgrave were married in 1986 at Kent Institution. Reid also published his novel, Jackrabbit Parole, that year. His articles and essays have been published in Playboy, Vice, Vancouver Magazine, Writers’ Digest, Prison Journal, Monday, and the Globe & Mail. He has taught creative writing, worked as a youth counsellor, and served on boards such as the John Howard Society and PEN Canada. Reid lived with Musgrave and his two daughters in Sidney, BC until 1999, when he was sentenced to 18 years in prison for a bank robbery in Victoria, after a prolonged bout with heroin and cocaine addiction.