Books often surprise us. They have a unique ability to make us think beyond our stereotypes and widen the world in which we live. Underdog, the new novella from Glenn Langohr, made me rethink a few of my own stereotypical ideas.
Underdog is a story within a story. A man and his wife discover a shelter of neglected animals, which prompts the main character, B.J., to remember a haunting series of events before his release from prison. Since the story is written in first person, the readers are close to B.J.’s thoughts. Honest and personal, B.J’s voice gives urgency to the story. B.J. relates the details of race riots, drug struggles, and the guards’ desperation to validate inmates as members of a gang, leading to solitary confinement and other more serious consequences.
Details are what make this book unique. Langohr brings a wealth of personal experience to the story, and it shows. Daily habits and fears of the inmates and relationships between prisoners are brought to tangible life through the details.
Most of the story is based on Mr. Langohr’s experience in prison himself. He is driven to share his story of struggle and redemption (see my interview with the author), and Underdog is just one piece of this story. Mr. Langohr has written several other books based on his own experiences; Roll Call, Upon Release, Race Riot, The Lock Up Diaries, and Gladiator are all available from Amazon.
One of the powers of story is making the unfamiliar become personal, and in Underdog, Mr. Langohr does exactly that. For an impacting glimpse into an unfamiliar world, I recommend Underdog.