The Prisonist: Jeff Grant’s Meditation and Memoir.
Review by Tim Askew
Coming in 2018
This book is about brokenness. it is about the tragedy of brokenness in the life of one remarkable flawed man. Jeff Grant. And, most of all, it is about the triumph in harnessing the remarkable power of that one man’s very brokenness.
Alexis de Tocqueville, in his prescient book Democracy In America, says this: “We succeed in enterprises which demand the positive qualities we possess, but we excel in those which can also make use of our defeats.”
Among other things, this book is about the upside of financial bankruptcy, drug addiction, familial alienation, and moral incapacitation. We live in a culture that glories in messages of positivity. We have a popular trope of affirmations and the power of positive thinking. We are a country of determined and doctrinaire, almost feral, optimism—a country that embraces external prosperity as an evincement of inner and essential “goodness”. F. Scott Fitzgerald, in his unfinished final novel The Last Tycoon, said famously, “There are no second acts in American lives.” This book is devoted to saying and proving the opposite. It is devoted to saying a defiant No to F. Scott and an uplifting Yes to hope and transformation, even out of the depths of degradation, shame, public humiliation, loneliness, and an almost Jobian loss of all. It is a story of the humbling of a grandiose, arrogant, and successful man, by way of the abyss. It is about making the dramatic negative into the essential good.
The Prisonist is ultimately a lesson in hope, faith, and redemption. It is about the impossible. It is about a man with no experience of failure, who made radical failure the very bedrock of unlikely and remarkable success.
Franciscan priest and theologian Richard Rohr, in his excellent book on addiction, Breathing Under Water, says, “People who fail to do it right by even their own definition of right, are those who often break through to enlightenment and compassion.” Like Jeff Grant.