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You Got Nothing Coming: Notes from a Prison Fish
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You Got Nothing Coming: Notes from a Prison Fish

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  634 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
A memoir of astonishing power–the true story of a middle-class, middle-aged man who fell into the Inferno of the American prison system, and what he has to do to survive.

It is your worst nightmare. You wake up in an 8' x 6' concrete-and-steel cell designated "Suicide Watch #3." The cell is real. Jimmy Lerner, formerly a suburban husband and father, and corporate strategic
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 30th 2002 by Broadway (first published 2002)
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May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
The first 2/3 of this book were riveting, as Lerner described his adjustment to prison life. The last third, in which he described the events that led to his arrest, seemed to drag, but it did still give a good sense of the sequence of events that eventually resulted in his committing a serious crime.
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
What happens when a staunch member of the middle class (a Pacific Bell executive) with an MBA finds himself in the Nevada State Prison? This book is an excellent etic study of extreme anomie.
Jack Murphy
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
considering that Jimmy Lerner is a first time writer I found his ability to apply character development astounding. especially how the beginning of the book introduces him as an intelligent, middle-aged family man - yet as it progresses he adapts to prison slang and common phrases along with the clearly influenced prison gaurds (reverse Stockholm syndrome?). a great read, four stars.
Dennis Littrell
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
Lerner, Jimmy A. You Got Nothing Coming: Notes from a Prison Fish (2002) *****
I am down wid dis, dawg!

This is a sad, funny and diabolically authentic memoir about his life in prison (and how he got there) by a natural born, sideways-talkin' wordsmith writing with skill, verve and a kind of disarming warmth replete with a lot of "out of the side of his neck" irony. Lerner, a one-time nice Jewish boy from New York finds himself the cell mate of Kansas, a six-foot-six, three-hundred pound "Nazi Low
Apr 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
this is one of the better-written prison memoirs i've ever read. i was entranced throughout the first half, impressed with the author's skillz. but then i had to deduct one star for transphobia. then, when i read the last third (where he finally reveals the details of the murder that got him sent to prison), i had to deduct another star because he revealed himself to be a creepy, un-likeable corporate slimy dude. but, despite my newfound dislike for him, i was still gripped by the story all the ...more
Dec 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting depiction of life inside a maximum security prison. As a criminologist, I find the book a fascinating study. As an avid reader, I find it sad but compelling.

The book starts out with Jimmy in the Suicide Watch cell of a local jail. From there it progresses through the transition from jail to prison (I assure you two very different environments). Jimmy then writes about his first two years in prison. These are the fish years. A fish is someone new to the prison system. A ne
Mar 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable and entertaining account of prison life by a middle-aged convict who managed to skirt the dangerous fractures of prison life, yet who captured much of the reality (not the tv version)---and it can be quite scary---of life behind bars. He is adept at presenting the warped culture developed and survival stratgies employed in lock-up, much of it humourous and compelling. You actually root for some of the miscreants. It also reveals, despite all the group dynamics in play, that people a ...more
Dec 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, justice
The author, a white suburbanite corporate drone and father of two girls, tells of his stint at a Nevada prison for voluntary manslaughter. He begins with his view of prison life: the oddballs, the violence, the jargon, the cruel guards. He adapts by acting respectful but tough, while his education earns him the respect of other, tougher inmates. The last third of the book takes us back to the events that led up to his crime, which was a clear case of self defense against a psychotic, as he descr ...more
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was a good insight to the prison environment, from an outsider's prospective. Jimmy Lerner, later known as OG, is a prison fish - a newbie - to the whole prison establishment. He went to prison over killing someone - who he called "the Monster". Someone that had seemed bipolar, especially when in a drug haze. This book started off with Lerner becoming acclimated to the jail/prison life with his roomie, Kansas - who has seen prison on many, many occasions. Kansas is a white supremacist ...more
Mar 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i'd like to start by saying i really liked this book. The first two thirds of the book managed to be funny in the way that he talked about his experience in prison. his sarcastic "talking out his neck" humor was well appreciated. Kansas was an awesome character and the irony that he was a Nazi who was close friends with a Jew was not lost on me. I read some things talking about the "monster" of the book that made me feel that his narrative towards the end was mostly false. Considering that Jimmy ...more
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Jimmy Lerner was born June 22, 1951 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He spent 18 years as a Pacific Bell (now part of AT&T) marketing executive, served for the U.S. Army in Panama, received an M.B.A. and spent time as a taxicab driver. He published his first book in 2002, You Got Nothing Coming, based on his experiences serving a 2 year sentence in a Nevada State Prison for the voluntary mans ...more
More about Jimmy A. Lerner...
“Much has been written and sung of the things we do for love and friendship. Not as much about the mistakes we make trying to banish lonliness.” 9 likes
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