Where Excuses Go to Die is available everywhere books are sold, and while this may be rich coming from a someone who used to rob bookstores, please consider purchasing your copy from an independent merchant.
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“This book had me from page one with the author, John Espinosa Nelson, under arrest and in front of an FBI agent. The moment of truth comes when asked ‘who the hell robs bookstores?’ and after wrestling with all the rationalizations he can think of, Nelson simply replies, ‘a criminal.’ A wonderful coming of age journey through his time in prison and beyond.” —Karen Connick, ForeWord Reviews
“John Nelson, in a very poor choice of maturity management options, had a momentary brush with the fast-moving world of Crime. He found himself in prison, surrounded by some of America’s finest. Where Excuses Go to Die is an insightful and hilarious piece of work from a guy who is an extremely talented writer. I can’t think that prison is anyone’s idea of a good time, but it definitely gave John something with which to apply his very obvious talent. This is an excellent work that would also make a great screenplay.” —Henry Rollins
“Wow. This book was fantastic and written with honesty and humor. I haven’t laughed so hard at a book in a really long time and Nelson delivers. His journey is filled with great insight–both to his external and internal world, as well as a look into the prison system.” —Goodreads community reviews
Very insightful, a somewhat horrifying look into California’s jail and prison system. Sometimes sad and other times laugh out loud funny. —Amazon Customer Reviews
“An unexpected delight—a story of hubris and horror that is one of the funniest and most touching cautionary tales I’ve read. Instead of a tired catalog of prison tropes, Nelson guides his readers through a world that is indeed grim and dangerous, yet his self-deprecating wit, caustic sense of humor, and incisive eye for observational detail make the journey at once exhilarating, hilarious, and ultimately uplifting.” —Helen Stringer, author, Paradigm
“The simple honesty of Nelson’s writing had me devouring one word after another. I laughed; I felt sadness, pity, wonder, and even condemnation for his youthful stupidity; and I was captivated by the ultimately redemptive nature his journey. With supporting documentation that offers a genuine behind-the-scenes view, this story goes well beyond the usual prison clichés. Each sentence builds tension and keeps the reader in Nelson’s corner as he faces the nail-biting outcomes of his own missteps.” —Derek Johansen, Producer, Sons of Anarchy
“Some people need to get in the box to think outside of it.”
WHERE EXCUSES GO TO DIE is John Nelson’s irreverent coming-of-age journey through a series of ludicrous places where excuses are everywhere – and worth nothing. The former “bookstore bandit” served 10 months in the bowels of the L.A. Men’s Central Jail, where he crossed paths with just about everything that place is making headlines for today. Then he was shipped to the brand new, yet-to-be populated Wasco State Prison.
When Nelson arrived on one of the first busloads of inmates, fields of construction debris offered weaponizable scraps and electric doors stuck halfway, trapping inmates and staff alike. Lights flickered endlessly; drinking water sporadically ran black. So much of the facility was unfinished that gang members, arriving daily, didn’t know where to lay claim. Administrators, meanwhile, couldn’t spend money fast enough during this showcase stage: they hired musicians and standup comics to keep the restless and growing populace distracted.
Out of that profligacy came a chance encounter with the late comedienne Lotus Weinstock, with whom Nelson struck up a friendship. Between Weinstock and the urging of civilian employees and teachers, he entered a statewide prison writing competition, placed third, and never looked back.
WHERE EXCUSES GO TO DIE tells the poignant and often hilarious tale of these “first responders of rehabilitation” – strangers, friends, and family who saw a dumb kid’s potential and cared enough to tell him so. It’s also about how Nelson, ever the instigator, defied penitentiary defeatism, bigotry, and cell house rules to become his own inmate and eventually his own man.