EV­ERY DAY WAS A STRUG­GLE, AND HIS SUR­VIVAL IS WON ON EV­ERY PAGE

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Peter Kenneally

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.

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