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Powell's Books Presents David Sheff in Conversation With Jarvis Jay Masters & Rebecca Solnit
Jarvis Jay Masters’s early life was a horror story whose outline we know too well. Born in Long Beach, California, his house was filled with crack, alcohol, physical abuse, and men who paid his mother for sex. He and his siblings were split up and sent to foster care when he was five, and he progressed quickly to juvenile detention, car theft, armed robbery, and ultimately San Quentin. While in prison, he was set up for the murder of a guard — a conviction which landed him on death row, where he’s been since 1990. At the time of his murder trial, he was held in solitary confinement, torn by rage and anxiety, felled by headaches, seizures, and panic attacks. A criminal investigator repeatedly offered to teach him breathing exercises which he repeatedly refused. Until desperation moved him to ask her how to do “that meditation shit.” Along the way, Masters becomes drawn to the principles that Buddhism espouses — compassion, sacrifice, and living in the moment — and he gains the admiration of Buddhists worldwide, including many of the faith’s most renowned practitioners. In THE BUDDHIST ON DEATH ROW (Simon & Schuster), David Sheff — author of Beautiful Boy – describes Masters’s gradual but profound transformation from a man dedicated to hurting others to one who has prevented violence on the prison yard, counseled high school kids by mail, and helped prisoners — and even guards — find meaning in their lives. Sheff will be joined in conversation by Jarvis Jay Masters, author of That Bird Has My Wings: The Autobiography of an Innocent Man on Death Row, and Rebecca Solnit, author of Recollections of My Nonexistence and Hope in the Dark.

Aug 10, 2020 06:00 PM in Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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David Sheff
David Sheff is the author of multiple books including the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Beautiful Boy, which was recently turned into a movie starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Outside, Rolling Stone, Wired, Fortune, and elsewhere. His piece for The New York Times, “My Addicted Son,” received an award from the American Psychological Association for Outstanding Contribution to Advancing the Understanding of Addictions.
Jarvis Jay Masters
Jarvis Jay Masters entered San Quentin State Prison in 1981 and has been on death row since 1990, where he spent over twenty-one years in solitary confinement. The author of Finding Freedom: How Death Row Broke and Opened My Heart and That Bird Has My Wings: The Autobiography of an Innocent Man on Death Row as well as numerous articles, he won a PEN Award in 1992 for his poem “Recipe for Prison Pruno.” For more information on the growing campaign to exonerate him, go to www.freejarvis.org.
Rebecca Solnit
Writer, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit is the author of more than twenty books on feminism, western and urban history, popular power, social change and insurrection, wandering and walking, hope and catastrophe. Her books include Recollections of My Nonexistence; Hope in the Dark; Men Explain Things to Me; and A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster.A product of the California public education system from kindergarten to graduate school, she writes regularly for the Guardian and Lithub and serves on the board of the climate group Oil Change International.