Jack Gantos: Reading Saved His Life


You may be tempted to scream -- “don’t do it, Jack!” -- at the outset of this podcast.  My conversation with author Jack Gantos, at the Nantucket Book Festival, begins with a choice he made in 1971 that led him to a horrifying year-and-a-half as an inmate in a federal penitentiary.  He describes the crime and the time in unforgettable detail.  Where did he find the resilience to survive prison, catapult himself to college, and become a prolific and acclaimed author?  It begins with reading, which taught him how to “spelunk down” into the emotions.  Gantos won the Newbery Medal for his book “Dead End in Norvelt,” and other honors for his young adult fiction and his riveting memoir, “Hole in My Life.”  This is a long episode – 50 minutes.  I believe you’ll agree that listening to Gantos tell his story is worth every second.