82189: Confessions of a Prison Bitch | Henry Bellows & Mikita Brottman
5 x 8 | 154 pages
We are left with what might be described as an outsider memoir, or simply a document. Unrefined and unfinished, 82189 was written by a man – posthumously assigned the pen-name “Henry Bellows” – who died while serving a life sentence for rape, and who spent most his life in penal confinement. Whatever literary aspiration may have motivated Bellows’ late-life confessional writing, his text now invites interest for such insight that it may offer (or conceal) regarding the formative experiences and criminal exploits of a repeat sex offender who was also rape victim. In telling his story, Bellows embeds a coldly observed account of carceral culture and the grim reality of sexual violence and abjection behind prison walls.
In her introduction to this central text and in an appending interview, Mikita Brottman provides relevant background about its origins and her association with the author to frame a more probing interpretation not only of Bellows’ “unfinished memoir” as such, but of the psychosexual and institutional factors that inform and complicate broader societal narratives of sex crime and the the sexual victimization of prisoners.