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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Prison author on virtual tap at Auntie’s tonight

Book readings typically follow the same routine. Someone introduces an author, who then reads from his/her work. After a brief question-and-answer period, the real objective occurs: the author signs copies of the work purchased by audience members.

Tonight's author event at Auntie's Bookstore at 7 p.m. will be a bit different. The work being highlighted is "Zek: An American Prison Story," the first long narrative — fiction inspired by real experience — by the writer Arthur Longworth.

Don't know the name? Pretty much everything you need to know about Longworth can be found in this Seattle Times story by reporter Jonathan Martin. But the quick view is that Longworth, in 1985 at the age of 21, murdered a 25-year-old woman named Cynthia Nelson. Longworth, who was on probation at the time, was sentenced to life without parole. Around the age of 40 he began writing, and his tales of prison life have won him a number of literary awards.

Longworth's book follows the character of Jonny, whose whole life is changed when he picks up a book. For obvious reasons, Longworth won't be at the reading. Instead, the event will feature guest readers Layne Pavey and Jeff Coats, plus Pacific Northwest Inlander reporter Mitch Ryals.

Here is a review of "Zek: An American Prison Story," written by Paul Constant for the Seattle Review of Books. And here is an excerpt from that review:

"You’ll be repeatedly stunned by the barbarism of 'Zek,' at the way the whole prison system works to crush the individual spirit. But if, in the middle of the story, you find Jonny’s experience too much to handle, I suggest turning back to the front of the book and reading the prologue again. It’s right there in plain English: one book can make a difference."

Auntie's readings tend to fill up quickly. Good to get there early.