Hello, dear reader. I’m glad you’re here. There wouldn’t be much point to all this without you.
I’m a reader, too. It’s hard to imagine what my teenage years would’ve been without books. During summer vacations, I often started reading at 10 p.m., finished at dawn, then went to sleep.
These days, I’m married with two kids, a dog, three cats, a mortgage and a job, so I don’t stay up reading all night as much as I’d like.
There are times when I start a book and can’t stop. When the clock reads 11:38 p.m., I’ll say, “It’s not even midnight.”
At 1:17 a.m.: “Work’s going to kill me tomorrow, but the wizards are gathered for an epic battle. One more chapter.”
At 2:32 a.m.: “What am I doing? Am I an idiot? But I’ve only got 129 pages to go.”
At 4:04 a.m.: “Good times. And, yes, I am an idiot.”
Nearly two weeks ago, a book arrived at my desk from a publishing company. That doesn’t happen often because my boss, Leslie Criss, is the Mighty Daily Journal’s book editor. She gets all the good stuff, and some not-so-good stuff, too.
After opening my package, I said, “All right, Neil. You did it.”
About two years ago, Neil White of Oxford told me about a memoir he was writing. After pleading guilty to fraud charges some 16 years ago, Neil was sentenced to a year in federal prison. He was incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center in Carville, La., which also housed more than 100 men and women with leprosy.
The book is called “In the Sanctuary of Outcasts.” Mighty Daily Journal Editor Lloyd Gray, who’s mentioned but not named in the book, asked me to read it for a story in the paper. (Lloyd didn’t know he was referenced in the book when he made the assignment.)
I started reading at about 8:30 p.m. on Monday. By midnight, there was no stopping me. I didn’t worry about how I would feel at work the next day because, technically, I already was working.
The book follows Neil from the day he walks into Carville until the day he leaves. As far as I’m concerned, he left at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday, which is when I finished the book.
I was worn out all day, but at least I was able to complain to Neil about what he’d done to me.
“That’s great to hear,” he said. “When you work on a project so long every day for hours and hours, no matter what the subject matter, you think nobody’s going to get anything out of this but your mother.”
Neil has book signings scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday at Square Books in Oxford and noon to 1:30 p.m. June 19 at Reed’s Gum Tree Bookstore in Tupelo.
“In the Sanctuary of Outcasts” goes on sale Tuesday, and it features a cast of saints and sinners – mostly sinners – who may keep you reading well past your bedtime. If that happens, you can’t blame Neil because you’ve been warned.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal entertainment writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal