belly of the beast

Belly of the Beast

by Caleb Alexander

Reviewed by Delonya Conyers and Reads4Pleasure
June 2010

Synopsis:

Belly of the Beast takes the readers on a violent, gut wrenching, deeply emotional journey through the American prison system. A place where friends become enemies, and enemies band together for survival in a system that is designed for their destruction, and in a society that has written them off. Belly of the Beast is a straight forward look at racism, the prison industrial complex, and the nature of our humanity. Throw in racist prison guards, a former Grand Wizard of the KKK, Billionaire tax evaders, violent prison gangs, The Mafia, and one man's struggle to make it back home to his woman and child, and you have a story that only Alexander can tell. Welcome to the Federal Prison System; welcome to the Belly of the Beast.

Reviewed by: Delonya Conyers

urban book review, urban book reviews, street lit reviews, review, hip hop, black, african americanurban book review, urban book reviews, street lit reviews, review, hip hop, black, african americanurban book review, urban book reviews, street lit reviews, review, hip hop, black, african americanurban book review, urban book reviews, street lit reviews, review, hip hop, black, african americanurban book review, urban book reviews, street lit reviews, review, hip hop, black, african american


The murder of Christian Alexander’s uncle triggered his descent into a life of crime. By the age of 19 he was already considered a menace to the streets of San Antonio Texas earning him a federal prison sentence. During his incarceration Christian would face adversity that not even the streets could prepare him for. As if existing within a corrupt system that has no interest in rehabilitation wasn’t difficult enough the prison that Christian is housed in is entrenched in a battle for control by rival gangs that are divided up amongst racial lines. But there’s even dissention in the gangs as infighting occurs over leadership. What make matters even worse is that the blacks have the smallest population in the prison.

Christian is determined to make it home safely to his family. But the atrocities that he faces while in the federal prison system if they don’t cause him to lose his life they just might cost him his humanity. The road to redemption in subhuman conditions is a hard fought battle but that is exactly what Christian must do if he is to survive the belly of the beast. But not only does Christian survive he develops into someone that will help others exist within the prison walls as well. Highlighting that inspiration can be found even while within negative environments.

With Belly of The Beast author Caleb Alexander does an exceptional job revealing the horrific reality of incarceration. There is no glorification of the conditions that exist behind bars. Although the book is undoubtedly urban fiction it surpasses other books in that genre by exploring the consequences of crimes which so many other books fail to do. They usually end once the character is jailed or if the incarceration is delved into it is usually glossed over as a place where characters get their weight up or plot the moves they’re going to make upon being released. But with Belly of The Beast readers will find a dark gritty tale that exemplifies how the truth always makes way better fiction.

What did you like best about the book?
The realism was very refreshing and although the subject matter was very depressing Author Alexander still made the book inspirational giving readers hope that they can overcome even the bleakest situation.

What did you dislike about the book?
Absolutely nothing, it was engrossing and entertaining.

How could the author improve the book?
In my opinion the book was perfect as is.


Reviewed by: Reads4Pleasure

urban book review, urban book reviews, street lit reviews, review, hip hop, black, african americanurban book review, urban book reviews, street lit reviews, review, hip hop, black, african americanurban book review, urban book reviews, street lit reviews, review, hip hop, black, african americanurban book review, urban book reviews, street lit reviews, review, hip hop, black, african americanurban book review, urban book reviews, street lit reviews, review, hip hop, black, african american


Fans of the HBO series Oz will appreciate the latest from Caleb Alexander, Belly of the Beast. Set in a Texas prison it is the story of Christian Alexander. Raised by his strict grandmother and a high performing student in his Catholic high school, Christian seems destined for greatness. With his own father in prison, Christian looks to his uncle for guidance. When that uncle is gunned down while walking a friend home, Christian descends into his own personal hell. With little regard for life, he goes on a killing spree that lands him in a maximum security prison.

Coming from the streets of San Antonio, Christian has always had Hispanic friends. He learns quickly that there’s no such thing as friends of another race in prison. Separated from Enrique, his lifelong friend, Christian quickly aligns himself with others of his race. At first content to go along to get along, Christian doesn’t get involved in prison politics or race wars. When his best friend is attacked, his views change and he begins to organize the biggest and most well trained prisoners that the system has witnessed.

A student of several world religions, Christian creates Umkhonto, whose sole purpose is to protect black prisoners from those that would do them harm. Backed by his counterparts in other parts of the yard, Umkhonto becomes a force with which to be reckoned. As the native Mexicans and U.S. Mexicans do battle on the yard for dominance, the Umkhonto quietly build up their numbers in preparation for the battle that is surely coming.

Though not an extremely lengthy read, I found myself struggling to make it through this book, simply because of the subject matter. There’s a point when Christian rejoices over the number of black men arriving at the prison because to him it means more soldiers for his war. To me it simply meant more black men displaced from their families and more black women left behind to raise their kids alone.

Is it hypocritical of me to enjoy shows such as Oz or the works of Iceberg Slim, yet question this storyline? Perhaps. Christian does have redeeming qualities and expands his mind enough to think beyond the prison walls. The fact that such an avowed separatist can find it in his heart to save a man of another race is enough to make me step back and question whether or not I’ve misjudged him.

What did you like best about this book?
There were a lot of characters and at times it was difficult to keep up with them.

What did you dislike about this book?
I felt that the book was entirely too long and the pace of the storyline could have increased sooner rather than later. Perhaps, there could have been more dialogue earlier amongst the characters. I also disliked the typesetting, the font was very small and narrow.

How can the author improve this book?
It would have been interesting to see what happened with the main character beyond the prison walls. I don’t know that a sequel is necessary, but an epilogue would have been sufficient.


The views expressed in published reviews are solely those of the reviewer. The Urban Book Source cannot be held accountable. The information featured, represents that of the reviewer and not that of The Urban Book Source. The reviewer takes full responsibility for the information presented.

Comments page 1 of 1:
Click Here to Add a Comment
qjparauqrcj :
Posted 2182 days ago
8vIuQp , [url=http://prwlrtpzibfw.com/]prwlrtpzibfw[/url], [link=http://uxszoxkausaz.com/]uxszoxkausaz[/link] , http://oaxgkpvznnvf.com/
secjuziovi :
Posted 2183 days ago
LGUqac <a href="http://ugsjttvyajkh.com/">ugsjt tvyajkh</a>
yzutkwdl :
Posted 2183 days ago
oyOcxh , [url=http://ivnzmvxqwyeu.com/]ivnzmvxqwyeu[/url], [link=http://fsxbvitfqobu.com/]fsxbvitfqobu[/link] , http://psevlvfzehmx.com/
krzzqawfwgz :
Posted 2184 days ago
JcG1fS <a href="http://mnsrscnjzseh.com/">mnsrs cnjzseh</a>
Dernell :
Posted 2184 days ago
That's a posting full of inshigt!
 




THE URBAN BOOK SOURCE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY COMMENTS THAT ARE POSTED. IF A COMMENT IS DEFAMATORY, PLEASE CONTACT US AND APPROPRIATE ACTION WILL BE TAKEN.
    B O O K   R E V I E W   R A T I N G   S Y S T E M




      More Reviews:

This Can't Be Life

Nude Awakening

A Life for A Life

The Ultimate Sacrifice II

Daughter of The Game

Deranged

The Loudest Silence

G Spot 2

The Trifecta

      [ More Book Reviews ]



 

 



ABOUT US:
Company Info
Privacy Policy
Disclaimer
Advertise
Resources

Contributors
Faq
WRITE-UPS:
Features

Interviews
Editorials
Reviews
Columns
Archives
MEDIA:
Video
Gallery
Audio
Store

COMMUNITY:
Message Board
Contests
Giveaways
PUBLIC RELATIONS:
Get Featured. Be Heard.
Submit Your Book
Review For Us
Book Checklist
Join Mailing List
Send Your Feedback
Contact Us
SOCIAL MEDIA:
Myspace
Facebook
Twitter
Blackplanet
YouTube

© 2005 - 2010 by The Urban Book Source, LLC