No Beast So Fierce
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An ex-con struggles to adjust to life outside prison walls in “one of the great crime novels of the past 30 years” (James Ellroy).
After eight years spent locked up, Max has gotten very good at being a prisoner. He knows the guards, the inmates, and how to survive. But the parole board has decided that he has sufficiently reformed, and it’s time for him to say goodbye. When Max reaches the outside world, he finds that freedom doesn’t make anything easier.
Based on his own experiences in prison, Edward Bunker first drafted No Beast So Fierce in the 1950s, while incarcerated in San Quentin State Prison. He spent the next two decades in and out of jail, writing essays for various magazines and working on the novel, which was finally published in 1973. Eighteen months later, the book was used as evidence that he was fit to leave jail. He received parole, and spent the rest of his life a free man.
Rooted in real-life experiences and hailed by Quentin Tarantino—who cast Bunker in his film Reservoir Dogs—as “the best first person crime novel I have ever read,” No Beast So Fierce is a gritty and compelling read like no other.
“The best first person crime novel I have ever read.” —Quentin Tarantino “Quite simply, one of the great crime novels of the past 30 years.” —James Ellroy “The most compelling quality of No Beast So Fierce is that, solidly rooted in his own experiences, it explores the nature of the criminal mind with almost blinding authenticity. Bunker is obviously a man of unusual gifts honed under circumstances that would destroy most men.” —Los Angeles Times
Edward Bunker (1933–2005) spent many years in prison before he found success as a novelist. Born in Los Angeles, he accumulated enough terms in juvenile hall that he was finally jailed, becoming at seventeen the youngest-ever inmate at San Quentin State Prison. He began writing during that period, inspired by his proximity to the famous death-row inmate and author Caryl Chessman. Incarcerated off and on throughout the next two decades, Bunker was still in jail when his first book, No Beast So Fierce, was published in 1973. Paroled eighteen months later, he gave up crime permanently, and spent the rest of his life writing novels, many of which drew on his experiences in prison. Also an actor, his most well-known role was Mr. Blue, one of the bank robbers in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. Bunker died in 2005.
No Book So Fierce
If you've read Education of a Felon, you'll love this book even more. If not, doesn't matter, No Beast so Fierce is still one of the best crime books out there. Read it then watch Straight Time starring Dustin Hoffman. Makes for a lovely day.