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The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell: Confessions of a Bank Robber

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This is the most complete and unsparing portrait of a descent into wrongdoing--and the painful climb back to civility--that I've ever read."--Mark Salzman, author of "Lying Awake" and "Iron and Silk. This is the most complete and unsparing portrait of a descent into wrongdoing--and the painful climb back to civility--that I've ever read."--Mark Salzman, author of "Lying Awake" and "Iron and Silk.


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This is the most complete and unsparing portrait of a descent into wrongdoing--and the painful climb back to civility--that I've ever read."--Mark Salzman, author of "Lying Awake" and "Iron and Silk. This is the most complete and unsparing portrait of a descent into wrongdoing--and the painful climb back to civility--that I've ever read."--Mark Salzman, author of "Lying Awake" and "Iron and Silk.

30 review for The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell: Confessions of a Bank Robber

  1. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Wappler

    I met Joe Loya on a recent trip to Oakland / Napa. He is neighbors with one of my oldest friends, Rebecca, who now has an adorable baby named Elijah. Joe came over with his daughter, Maddie, a toddler in pink converse who can't sleep without her stuffed bunny. I followed Joe to his garage and he gave me his memoir -- it's about his crazy youth as a Christian turned bank robber. Seriously. The guy held up dozens and dozens of banks in Southern California. He also served 8 years in prison, a coupl I met Joe Loya on a recent trip to Oakland / Napa. He is neighbors with one of my oldest friends, Rebecca, who now has an adorable baby named Elijah. Joe came over with his daughter, Maddie, a toddler in pink converse who can't sleep without her stuffed bunny. I followed Joe to his garage and he gave me his memoir -- it's about his crazy youth as a Christian turned bank robber. Seriously. The guy held up dozens and dozens of banks in Southern California. He also served 8 years in prison, a couple of those years in solitary confinement. I'm not much of a memoir fan but Loya's story is very compelling. It made me think about the light and dark in all of us, how our natures are very malleable, shaped by circumstance. Joe had an abusive father and a doting mother who died tragically young -- it doesn't excuse anything he did but you understand the logic of an ambitious brain, who, after total disillusionment with Christianity, could swing the opposite way and become fervently amoral.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I heard this author on NPR over a year ago, maybe two, and had a note pinned to my bulletin board to remind me to read this book. First, I really like that as an autobiography, it is written as a story. It is a little chopped at the end, but I guess that's what happens when someone brings you to the present. I most appreciated his self-awareness, his keen observation of the culture and socio-economic identities that surrounded him (I am about the same age and grew up in an area not to far away), I heard this author on NPR over a year ago, maybe two, and had a note pinned to my bulletin board to remind me to read this book. First, I really like that as an autobiography, it is written as a story. It is a little chopped at the end, but I guess that's what happens when someone brings you to the present. I most appreciated his self-awareness, his keen observation of the culture and socio-economic identities that surrounded him (I am about the same age and grew up in an area not to far away), and his calculated choices to mold himself in to what he thought would be more accepted and successful. A hollow shell of this, for sure, but to hear someone be so aware and purposeful is interesting. I also appreciate his spiritual journey, his struggle to accept his own fallen nature and reconcile religion and morality. I recommend this book. Its very real and while its a bank robber writing it, one can't help but look in the mirror and relate.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Mcpherson

    Joe Loya opens his soul much like a coroner reveals the inside of a corpse--for us to see all and examine and explain why things have happened. His prose is both pedestrian and elevated, showing Loya's gift for words and his varied education and knowledge of all sorts. He does not make excuses, instead telling us what happened and how it turned him from a church-going, obedient child into an angry, sociopath who used his rage to rob 30 banks in an 18-month period. He writes many times of redempt Joe Loya opens his soul much like a coroner reveals the inside of a corpse--for us to see all and examine and explain why things have happened. His prose is both pedestrian and elevated, showing Loya's gift for words and his varied education and knowledge of all sorts. He does not make excuses, instead telling us what happened and how it turned him from a church-going, obedient child into an angry, sociopath who used his rage to rob 30 banks in an 18-month period. He writes many times of redemption stories. Probably because he is his own redemption story. Interestingly, Loya references the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) but professes he has spurned religion. The men who taught him his faith also betrayed him and showed their hypocrisy as Joe became a teenager and could understand the truth.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    I first heard of Joe Loya through the podcast "The Score: Bank Robber Diaries". When I found out he had a book, I was very eager to read it and it didn't disappoint. I loved the book, it covered so much more. Unlike the podcast, the book didn't concentrate on his crimes but his life, his thoughts, experiences and his growth. Very powerful. I first heard of Joe Loya through the podcast "The Score: Bank Robber Diaries". When I found out he had a book, I was very eager to read it and it didn't disappoint. I loved the book, it covered so much more. Unlike the podcast, the book didn't concentrate on his crimes but his life, his thoughts, experiences and his growth. Very powerful.

  5. 4 out of 5

    James Warner

    The memoir of a victimized youth who goes on a crime spree, pays his debt to society, and emerges rehabilitated -- a man who understands his demons in order to tame them. Loya is very good at perceiving people's vulnerabilities, a power he formerly used for evil, but eventually learns can also be put to other uses, such as being a writer! Another impression you get from this book is that banks were easier to rob in the 1980s than they probably are now... it's amazing to read about Loya deciding The memoir of a victimized youth who goes on a crime spree, pays his debt to society, and emerges rehabilitated -- a man who understands his demons in order to tame them. Loya is very good at perceiving people's vulnerabilities, a power he formerly used for evil, but eventually learns can also be put to other uses, such as being a writer! Another impression you get from this book is that banks were easier to rob in the 1980s than they probably are now... it's amazing to read about Loya deciding to rob a bank on the spur of the moment and, temporarily at least, getting away with it! A very thought-provoking story that displays a soul struggling for balance between rage and gentleness.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dale

    Really great writing. It's quite a long journey that the writer takes you on, through his family's history, his childhood, then into crime and prison, then slowly, gradually figuring out whether and how to change the course of his life. It's got a few similarities with the last book I read about prison (Alexander Berkman's memoir) - mostly in the depth of degradation that prisoner's experience, just how violent prison is and how damaging it can be to the prisoners' health and spirit. Plus intere Really great writing. It's quite a long journey that the writer takes you on, through his family's history, his childhood, then into crime and prison, then slowly, gradually figuring out whether and how to change the course of his life. It's got a few similarities with the last book I read about prison (Alexander Berkman's memoir) - mostly in the depth of degradation that prisoner's experience, just how violent prison is and how damaging it can be to the prisoners' health and spirit. Plus interesting details on the shape of the society behind bars and how prisoners bend or break the rules to communicate among themselves and collect and trade contraband.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    I met Joe about five years ago, well into his renewed life as an author, father and truly transformed man. His story blew me away. It all made sense to me why he did what he did and has become the person he is now. He is amazingly intelligent, clever, witty, with an underlying sensitivity and vulnerability. This book is a grab-you-by-the-heart engrossing, exciting, touching and terrifying. He's a good writer/story teller. Highly recommend you read it. I met Joe about five years ago, well into his renewed life as an author, father and truly transformed man. His story blew me away. It all made sense to me why he did what he did and has become the person he is now. He is amazingly intelligent, clever, witty, with an underlying sensitivity and vulnerability. This book is a grab-you-by-the-heart engrossing, exciting, touching and terrifying. He's a good writer/story teller. Highly recommend you read it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Preacher

    I don't think I'd want to be alone in a room with this guy, but he tells a good yarn. It's evidence towards the proposition that simultaneously beating the living shit out of your kids and believing they're chosen by God to do something special is not going to end how you expect. I don't think I'd want to be alone in a room with this guy, but he tells a good yarn. It's evidence towards the proposition that simultaneously beating the living shit out of your kids and believing they're chosen by God to do something special is not going to end how you expect.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    Criminal finds redemption through writing. A wild ride...is it all true? A Million Little Pieces has ruined memoirs for me.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gina Ruiz

    http://ginasblogging.blogspot.com/200... http://ginasblogging.blogspot.com/200...

  11. 4 out of 5

    michelle

    I just saw the author in a documentary called The Protagonist and was very impressed by his frankness, intelligence and insight.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marisa

    Joe Loya is writing the foreword to the 826 Valencia/Mission High Young Authors' Book Project. He is a sincere inspirational man and his presence during this project an honor. Joe Loya is writing the foreword to the 826 Valencia/Mission High Young Authors' Book Project. He is a sincere inspirational man and his presence during this project an honor.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Pinky

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Maples

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Shumard

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  19. 4 out of 5

    D'Angelo Stefani

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katie

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amy Jones

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

  23. 5 out of 5

    Abbi Barking

  24. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

  25. 4 out of 5

    That Guy

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sfdatx

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lianne

  29. 4 out of 5

    Adam Garza

  30. 5 out of 5

    Micheal Peggins

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