New Look for Rail Booksby Theodore Hamm
This issue marks the dawn of a new era in our coverage of books. After a mighty fine decade or so at the helm of our Books section, John Reed is stepping aside. We salute John (and his talented team of assistant editors) for putting together a consistently dynamic section, one devoted to the smaller houses. Whether in these pages or elsewhere, we look forward to hearing more from John and company in the coming years.
The reins of our Books section are now in the capable hands of Joseph Salvatore, a fixture in the New School’s Creative Writing Program. Joe plans to mix things up a bit, covering both indie fare and the good stuff produced by the larger houses, with the aim of running more longer-form pieces. Joe will be joined by Katie Rolnick, who has been editing—with aplomb—the nonfiction book reviews we’ve been running in the Express section. By combining Katie’s excellent work with Joe’s, you might say that we’re trying to put all our books on one shelf.
Yet as the above piece illustrates, books will continue to provide the basis of discussions found in many Rail sections. It’s not really an old saying, but perhaps one day it shall be: Books, you can’t make money from them, but the world would be a much dumber place without them.
Speaking of smart books, I encourage you to check out Sabine Heinlein’s Among Murderers: Life After Prison (California, 2013). As many regular Rail readers (as well as fans of our Rant Rhapsody series) know, Sabine is one of our own.
In the book, Sabine tells the story of three former residents of New York State prisons—Angel, Adam, and Bruce—who are trying to make it on the outside. Notably free of policy jargon, Sabine’s work is about real people and the stories they have to tell. Such an approach is far from trendy in the literature of criminal justice, which is obsessed with statistics; nor does it prevail in the world of nonfiction publishing, where it’s mostly the already famous who get written about. But these folks have plenty to say, and to find out, you’ll just have to read the book.