From one of the greatest legal injustices of our time sprang one of the most unlikelyand unforgettablelove stories. Damien Echols was just eighteen years old when he was condemned to death for a crime he didn’t commit. His casethat of the infamous West Memphis Three”gained notoriety after a documentary, Paradise Lost, exposed the biased nature of the trial and Echols as the precocious, charmingand tragicfigure at its center. Lorri Davis was a landscape architect living in New York City when she surreptitiously wandered into a showing of the film, and she left forever changed. She, too, was from the South, accustomed to being the outsider in a small town. She saw much of herself in Echols, understood how he could easily have been swept up in a witch hunt, and she couldn’t get him out of her head. So she wrote him a letterand when it arrived in Echols’s penitentiary cell in April 1996, hers were some of the first kind words of support he heard.
Over the course of a remarkable sixteen-year correspondence, Echols and Davis grew to know each other, fall in love, and marryall without ever being able to touch each other freely or be alone together. In Yours for Eternity, their extraordinary letters provide a singular portrait of their marriage, from the first, heady days of discovery to the final, painful months before Echols’s release. Through postscripts and footnotes, Echols and Davis describe how they overcame the enormous challenges and heartbreaks throughout the yearspersonal setbacks, legal complications, and much more. Yours for Eternity reveals a relationship unfolding in the most exceptional of circumstances. Powerful and incredibly intimate, it is a modern-day love story for the ages.
About the Author
DAMIEN ECHOLS and LORRI DAVIS met in 1996, and were married in a Buddhist ceremony at Tucker Maximum Security Unit in Arkansas in 1999. Echols spent nearly eighteen years on death row until his release in 2011. He is the author of the New York Timesbestselling memoir Life After Death. For more than a decade, Davis spearheaded a full-time effort toward her husband’s release from prison, which encompassed all aspects of the legal case and forensic investigation. She and Echols, who together produced the documentary West of Memphis, live in New York.
Praise for Yours for Eternity: A Love Story on Death Row…
“Reconstructed from thousands of letters the pair exchanged over 16 years, this tender and unusual narrative offers a rare, courageously intimate view of a love that should never have survived and yet did.”—Kirkus
*Praise for Life After Death by Damien Echols*
A New York Times Bestseller
A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
A USA Today Bestseller
A Wall Street Journal Bestseller
A Kirkus Reviews “Best of 2012” nonfiction selection
“Damien Echols spent eighteen years on death row for murders he did not commit. Somehow, in the depths of his unspeakable nightmare, he found the courage and strength not only to survive, but to grow, to create, to forgive, and to understand. Life After Death is a brilliant, haunting, painful, and uplifting narrative of a hopeless childhood, a wrongful conviction, a brutal incarceration, and the beginning of a new life.”
“Wrongfully imprisoned by willfully ignorant cops, prosecutors and judge, Damien Echols draws on all his wits and his unique view of humanity to survive eighteen years on death row. My admiration for him, and the strength of his spirit, increases with every page.”
—Sir Peter Jackson, Academy Award-winning director, producer and screenwriter
“I am in awe of Damien's ability to write so beautifully, with such ease, humor and honesty—this is inspired storytelling, a wonderful book!”
—Fran Walsh, Academy Award-winning screenwriter, composer and producer
“The life of Damien Echols is a journey similar to that of the metal that becomes a samurai’s sword. Heated and pounded until it becomes hardened, it can hold its edge for centuries. It is incredible that Damien endured and survived one of the most tragic miscarriages of American justice, and emerged such a centered, articulate and extraordinary man and writer. Life After Death proves that he paid dearly for his wisdom.”
“Exceptional memoir by the most famous of the West Memphis Three. [B]are facts alone would make for an interesting story. However, Echols is at heart a poet and mystic, and he has written not just a quickie one-off book to capitalize on a lurid news story, but rather a work of art that occasionally bears a resemblance to the work of Jean Genet. A voracious reader all his life, Echols vividly tells his story, from his impoverished childhood in a series of shacks and mobile homes to his emergence after half a lifetime behind bars as a psychically scarred man rediscovering freedom in New York City. The author also effectively displays his intelligence and sensitivity, qualities the Arkansas criminal justice system had no interest in recognizing during Echols’ ordeal. Essential reading.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“This is a stunning piece of work. Such hope while faced with injustice. Damien teaches us how to live.”
“[Echols’] case garnered worldwide attention, but [his] memoir is about as far away from a publicity-seeking I-was-wronged story as possible. The author opts for a meatier, and certainly more haunting, account of his life behind bars, coupled with flashbacks to his childhood....Echols is a talented writer, and when the book dips into his own spiritual and philosophical beliefs...it achieves the kind of emotional resonance that many similar books lack....A tragic and often disturbing story."
"Damien Echols suffered a shocking miscarriage of justice. A nightmare few could endure. An innocent man on death row for more than eighteen years, abused by the very system we all fund. His story will appall, fascinate, and render you feeble with tears and laughter. A brilliant memoir to battle with literary giants of the calibre of Jean Genet, Gregory David Roberts, and Dostoevsky."
“[T]his is an eloquent, even bitterly lyrical, portrayal of how an innocent man can slip through the cracks of the legal system and struggle to survive. Compelling and deeply moving, in the tradition of Helen Prejean’s Dead Man Walking and Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song, this memoir will appeal to a wide audience.”
—Library Journal (starred)
“In this searing, finely wrought memoir, Echols recalls his poverty-stricken childhood, the trial of the West Memphis 3, and the harsh realities of life on death row … The most affecting sections are Echols’s philosophical musings on all he has lost, his thoughts often influenced by Zen Buddhism. In one journal entry that survived the guards’ purge, Echols contemplates what he misses the most while in prison. The answer is a heart-wrenching and simple commentary on American prison life: ‘In the end it’s not the fruit I miss most... I miss being treated like a human being.’”
—Publisher’s Weekly (starred)
“[A] tale of romance, resilience, and the power of the written word.”
—Stephanie Palumbo, O, The Oprah Magazine
“Echols is a writer whose talent is commensurate with the task of telling this story....The man who has emerged from death row at last is not quite a hero, but he’s something far more interesting: an artist—and, most definitely, well worth meeting.”
—Laura Miller, Salon.com
“Gripping…Echols has already lived a remarkable life, one forged in tragedy and all manner of iniquity. That he is able to write so movingly about the many trials he endured speaks volumes about his intellect and character.”
—Jesse Singal, The Boston Globe