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Picks and Pans Review: My Life Had Stood a Loaded Gun

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by Theo Padnos

Grad student Padnos is fed up with sterile academics and leaves to teach literature to inmates at the Woodstock jail in Vermont. With a syllabus of Walt Whitman and Mark Twain, Padnos attempts to connect with his thug students. His experience is depressing, poignant and twistedly funny all at once.

Part reporter’s notebook, part diary, Loaded Gun is a look at the lives of criminals who are as brash, insecure and hopeful as teenagers. Just don’t expect the can-do spirit of Stand and Deliver.