My Return is sure to provoke intense public discussion and controversy. The author, Jack Henry Abbott, is now serving a fifteen-years-to-life sentence for the 1981 stabbing of Richard Adan, a young night manager of the Binibon Cafe on Manhattan's Lower East Side.
Only six weeks before killing Adan, Abbott had been paroled from Marion Federal Prison in Illinois at the age of thirty-seven. While in prison, he had become well known as a promising writer, encouraged in his work by Norman Mailer and other New York literati. Abbott's In the Belly of the Beast was released at the time of his parole and was widely heralded as a major literary achievement.
Except for a short-lived escape from prison in 1971, Abbott had been incarcerated in one institution or another since he was thirteen years old. His parole placed him in another potentially violent environment, but one that had a completely different set of rules. He has consistently maintained that he thought Richard Adan was carrying a knife and that his attack on Adan was the result of that perception.
Naomi Zack, who has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University, became interested in the Abbott case while doing research for a film on the victims of crime and of the criminal justice system. She is convinced that Abbott was unfairly convicted by an outraged public opinion inflamed by sensational treatment in the media.
My Return is Jack Abbott's and Naomi Zack's story of the death of Richard Adan, the ensuing trial, and Abbott's return to prison. It is comprised of "The Death of Tragedy," a play based on the actual court records; an illustrated appendix giving stage directions and the background of the issues and people involved; and "Men of Letters," a collection of Abbott's essays on a variety of topics - religious, philosophical, historical, and literary - including an autobiographical account of his tragic life. It is an absorbing and undeniably fascinating work.
Although it is his story, Jack Henry Abbott receives no royalties or any other remuneration from the publication of this book.
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ABBOTT CHARACTER ABBOTT Yes actors Adan Adan's ancient appear Appendix Arab began bible Binibon Birth of Tragedy Burdes cafe Caryl Chessman cell chest Chinese CHORUS Christian convicted corner crime culture death DEFENSE LAWYER door emotions Eunus existence fact Fifth Street FOHSTA Greek halfway house hand inmates Israel Jack Abbott Jack Henry Abbott Jerusalem Jewish Jews Judeans jury kill knew knife land land of Israel Larsen LEADER letters light looked Majesky Manhattan manslaughter menus Mormon Moslem murder nations never Nietzsche night manager Norman Mailer Palestine parole play police PROSECUTOR reason religion restroom Richard Wagner Roman Rome Sadducees scene Second Avenue self-defense sentence shouts sidewalk slaves someone speaks stabbed stage standing steps stops SUSAN and VERONIQUE Temple testified testimony things tion told took Torah tragoidia trial turns U.S. Parole Commission Utah WAITER walking backward witness write wrote York