Carl Cattermole’s short, sharp, shockingly good guide to life on the inside is without a doubt one of the best books I’ve read all year. Unlike so many of the squillions of things that get ushered into print each month, H.M. Prison: A Survival Guide is a book that feels like it urgently needed to be written, and equally urgently; needs to be read. It’s the upshot of a truly generous impulse; to demystify the prison experience and to offer pragmatic help to a huge amount of people who are often vulnerable, confused and scared. It should also, of course, be required reading for anyone and everyone on the outside.
Eschewing the lurid tales and grim machismo that characterize so many prison memoirs, 20-something Londoner Cattermole’s nifty book is a straight-talking, utterly no-nonsense account of what life is like if you get sent down. It’s beautifully and wittily written, and indeed beautifully and wittily illustrated; by Private Eye’s very own ‘Banx.’
The ‘Survival Guide is eye-opening, at times eye-watering, and thoroughly educational in every sense. Like all the best books; it works as a kind of empathy generator. It’s also dirt-cheap (£4!). And it’s not-for-profit. And it looks and feels great. What more could you want? This is that rare kind of book that actually helps to make the world a better place.
Review by Stuart