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Page Turner: David Avery likes history-mystery in Erik Larson's 'Thunderstruck'

'Orange Is the New Black' a look inside women's prison

Saturday, September 7, 2013 - 12:01 am

Editor's note: This week's Page Turner reader interview is with David Avery, a judge in Allen County Superior Court.

“I am currently reading 'Thunderstruck,' which was written by Erik Larson. He's the author of 'Devil in the White City,' the first of his books that I read – and I just loved it. I enjoy historical storytelling, even when it's not quite true and is embellished – but it's not like reading a dry history book.

“This is a story about Marconi and the development of the wireless telegraph. And it intertwines with the story of a dentist who has a mistress but who becomes enamored of Belle, (who's) a real beauty and very gregarious. Belle is different for him. It's like Wally Cox falling in love with Carol Channing.

“There's a murder involved, and Marconi has come up with his invention and is trying to market it – much like Steve Jobs. There's a lot of detail, and I am enjoying the writing. And I'm wondering who is going to be murdered – the dentist, Belle, the mistress? Larson is very well educated, and maybe a little pompous – but I'm eager to see what happens.

“I had just finished 'Orange Is the New Black,' by Piper Kerman. It's abouther first-hand experience. She seems to be from an upper-middle-class family. After graduating from Smith College, she wants something adventurous and hooks up with some folks; she carries money for some people involved in dope, and then she is indicted and incarcerated in a facility. This is the story of her experiences.

“I started the (memoir) expecting some terrible things, but that's not the tact of the book. She talks about someone coming in knowing nothing of prison life. There is depression and then she meets others who are “regular people.” She has a nice writing style; it's conversational and easy to read. It's like she's sitting there telling you the story.

“She discusses the system and how some of the policies counter the rehabilitating experience. She talks about personal relationships. Netflix has produced 13 episodes based on her book. She is a consultant on the series. I've only watched one episode, which added a lot that isn't in the book. The book gives her view of the prison system and is not overly critical. Her incarceration changed her opinion. She was in for just under 15 months and there was a feeling of just getting through those 15 months when her life would resume. She writes how long-termers adjust to a prison society in a fairly positive way. It's a good book!

“I belong to a book club, and we read a variety – fiction and non-fiction.”