EVERY DAY WAS A STRUGGLE, AND HIS SURVIVAL IS WON ON EVERY PAGE
inmates fresh fruit only once a year, at Christmas, and then stop even that because it is a ‘‘ security risk’’.
Part of Echols’s survival mechanism is to spend increasing lengths of time in reveries of the past, finding pleasure over and over again in memories of Christmas or Halloween. He also delves deeply into Buddhist practice, Christian mysticism, the Kabbalah and other belief systems, which in the celebrity world may be affectation but in his case were the difference between life and death.
‘‘ And yet,’’ he writes, ‘‘ no routine or spiritual practice in the world will dim the reality of daily life on Death Row.’’ Even for this remarkable young man, every day was a struggle, and his survival, his sanity, is won on every page. This is a deeply moving book, almost Dickensian in its moral scope: religion, hypocrisy, evil in office, with virtue and good fellowship finally triumphant. And no irony.