A Prison Memoir

The Hole would’ve been a lot easier to take with this on hand.

An arrest and conviction for trafficking ecstasy can lead to comedy. The character-strewn path of corrections that followed is entertaining and enlightening. This is a story of a “book-learnin’ smart-ass” who endured a three-year minimum-security prison tour and lived to make fun of it.

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Lookout For Shorts is a departure from hardcore prison fare; it is gonzo and humorous in tone. Picture the worst cruise ship imaginable, full of guests from The Jerry Springer Show, that never reaches a port. Tales abound of inmate absurdities and administrative follies juxtaposed against the coarse subculture of lockup. Along the way, Phillips unflinchingly describes his drug-dealing days, a rehab stint, and his misspent youth.

We’ve all heard of Orange Is the New Black, the fish-out-of-water story that provided a glimpse into a fascinating micro-society. Lookout is similar but zips several steps further into humor. The main hazard the author faced was his head exploding from being immersed in a sea of weirdos and misfits. The nuttiness nearly made him forget about the ever-present threat of losing teeth and suffering fresh scars.