Life after Death

Life after Death -

I was really engaged by the first third of this book (reading other reviews, it appears it was previously published as its own memoir?); Echols is a skilled writer, and I got into the flow of the book's structure of going back and forth from his then current life in prison to his childhood leading up to the present.


But near the middle the writing became less engaging, repetitive, and the inclusion of what felt like far too many journal entries/letters bogged down the narrative. I feel the work could have been better edited.


The title is somewhat misleading in that the focus of two-thirds of the text is life on death row, not after it, which is given more of a coda (unless you interpret the title to mean after the death sentence). That didn't necessarily bother me, but it's a heads-up for those interested.


All that said, having never read a book like this, it's often stunning (in the worst of ways), heartbreaking, yet enlightening and funny at times. Don't expect Echols to go through the experience of the trial; you can see the Paradise Lost documentaries for that. But his experience of the corruption and abuse in the "justice" and prison system are appalling. This is (almost) balanced by Echols's efforts to maintain his hope, sanity, and health despite his circumstances. It's definitely worth a look, but I wish the rest had lived up to the promise of the beginning in terms of writing and editing/shape.