Piper Kerman grew up in Boston. Her jail memoir is “Orange Is The New Black”
Following an unlikely segue of venues, Piper Kerman graduated from Smith College, got involved in international drug trafficking and a decade later, went to jail. Piper’s Sapphic college days brought her under the witchy spell of drug-smuggling Nora who “looked a bit like a French bulldog, or maybe a white Eartha Kitt” – becoming her boss and lover. But later Nora ratted her out, sending Kerman into Danbury Prison’s differently -dorm’ed scene teeming with colorful prisoners; the vulnerable and the ghetto-tough, young mothers and jailbird grandmas. With her sharp eye and hip wit, (she says she’d only experienced handcuffs ‘in the boudoir’) Kerman gives us dialogue-delicious characters who enact their battles and loyalties, bonding together against the punitive guards, fearing the terrifying slide into Solitary, often mandated quite arbitrarily. Breezily resilient, ‘inside’ for only fifteen months, a hard working prison electrician, Kerman runs up to ten miles a day- a model prisoner with a B.A. She also has Larry, her fiancé who visits faithfully-along with family and friends. Kerman is observant and highly descriptive, and develops genuine relationships with prisoners less lucky than herself. Later shackled and at gunpoint she is airlifted to another jail temporarily; an absolutely terrifying hellhole. And there she meets Nora again, with interestingly nuanced resolutions.
From Page 100:
“At Smith College the pervasive obsession with food was expressed at candlelight dinners and at Friday afternoon faculty teas; in Danbury it was via microwave cooking and stolen food. In many ways I was more prepared to live in close quarters with a bunchy of women than some of my fellow prisoners who were driven crazy by communal female living. There was less bulimia and more fights than I had known as an undergrad, but the same feminine ethos was present—empathetic camaraderie and bawdy humor on good days, and histrionic dramas coupled with meddling, malicious gossip on bad days.”