Mark Salzman, author of the memoir Iron & Silk, the novel Lying Awake, and three other books, visited a friend’s writing workshop at Central Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles for a purely selfish reason–to gain some insight into juvenile delinquents for a problematic novel in progress. He soon committed himself to teaching classes there twice a week, but not because he was noble, he’s quick to assure readers of True Notebooks, his chronicle of his first year on the job. His “primary goal,” he writes, “had never been to save them or improve them or even to get them to take responsibility for their crimes. I was there because they responded to encouragement and wrote honestly; surely that sort of interaction between teacher and student has value.” But even though he’s not out to reform the system, the book–which details his workshops and reproduces often wrenching examples of his students’ work–does graphically document the multitude of ways the legal system continues to fail the poor in this country. Salzman will read from and discuss his book at 7:30 PM Wednesday, October 22, at Barbara’s Bookstore, 1350 N. Wells, 312-642-5044.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Emily Mott.