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“Memos From Purgatory” by Ellison Harlan

What Inspired You to Write Your Book?

I wrote the book to show and educate people throughout the world on how young individuals engage in gang crimes in society, discriminating against others based on their race and religion. As Lee and Tandoc (2017) mention, novelists write, putting the intended audience in their minds and equally consuming the specific information from the reader’s perspective. As I have written in the book, I joined the gang to get authentic information to critically enable me to write my first novel, Web of the City. However, I decided to write this book to impart to the audience that the main reason individuals involve themselves in crime is that they do not have adequate educational foundations. As mentioned in my book, the Barons are between the age of sixteen to twenty, whereby all of them are school dropouts and have little sense of how their future will resemble. Therefore, my work aims to encourage parents throughout the country to ensure that they take their children to school to reduce the ordeals of robbery and other-related incidents that trigger our security.

Moreover, I wrote this book to present to the reader and the public, in general, that police officers in the United States and the whole world, I believe, are polite, humane, and bureaucratic people who strictly follow the rule of law. Anyone could have expected them to harass me when they arrested me for possessing illegal arms. However, they listened to my explanation when I told them that I was engaging with the Baron group to ensure that I correct authentic information meaningful in writing my first novel, Web of the City. I wrote this book to make the reader understand that even though they are less fortunate and from the low economic class, they can still be served with justice in our various American courts. I faced the jury without a lawyer and explained everything regarding how I came to live in the Brooklyn, New York apartment. The court made a decision and set me free at last. Thus, people should not develop the attitude that they must have a lawyer to win a case, and my experience proves it.

What Research Did You Do before Deciding to Write the Memos from Purgatory Book?

Alright. As I mentioned earlier, I was trying to research so that I can write my first novel, Web of the City, but all of a sudden, the ordeals which I encountered forced me to write the story Memos from Purgatory before releasing my intended book. I give special thanks to my friend Ted White, who encouraged me to write the text to explain the different scenarios I went through after being arrested and detained for owning illegal firearms. Everything that I have written in that book is factual, and it is my personal experience. The text contains ordeals that I have faced and encountered in life. Connectedly, I conducted authentic research before deciding to inscribe this book.

What Was the Most Astonishing Thing You Learned about Gangs and Their Culture?

Thank you again. Holistically, the most striking issue I learned regarding gangs is that they are made of groups whose members are young people below the age of twenty. As I have mentioned in my book Memos from Purgatory, the Baron gangsters were made of individuals between sixteen and twenty. As a result, the federal government and the relevant security agencies should offer civic education to young people, imparting them a sense of understanding that crime can lead to devastating consequences, including being shot and dying on the spot. According to Spitzer (2017), no individual is expected to possess the different concealed weapons in the Sullivan Act, including revolvers. Moreover, one of the gangs’ cultures is that there is moderate graduation, whereby individuals move from one junior to more senior group, based on their ability to succeed in the different categories. Therefore, most of the individuals who engage in public stabbing or shooting incidences want to be recruited into one gang or and then be promoted.

Why Did You Decide to Address the Criminal Activity of the Gang in the Way You Did?

In the book, I have addressed the gang’s criminal activity as involving ordinary robbery and stabbing to snatch people’s laptop bags, phones, and other technology devices, which might be worthy. In addition, I have opined in my volume that the Baron gang was resisting killing people, and in case an individual died, then it was accidental. I have categorically addressed a criminal activity like this because I wanted to bring both government agencies and public attention regarding gangsters. Understandably, the individuals involve themselves in robbery and thievery practices to find something to eat and afford other life necessities. As I mentioned in my book, the gangsters were too young, between sixteen to twenty years. I have equally reiterated that most of the individuals are orphans, whereas others have reckless parents, concerned less about their families’ wellbeing. As a result, the relevant authorities can comprehend that the gangster groups are concerned about their wellbeing and not necessarily killing people in the community.

Why Did You Choose to Take the Approach You Embraced when the Law Enforcement Authorities Tried to Control Gangs?

Thank you. Let me develop this answer, focusing on what I mentioned in the book Memos from Purgatory. In this manuscript, I have depicted that the police handled me in a polite and bureaucratic way. The officers knocked at my apartment and introduced themselves, which is according to the police’s guidelines and ethics. According to the U.S. Constitution (1992), the police are supposed to introduce themselves first and subsequently give a warrant of arrest for specific reasons (U.S. Const. art. 18, 922). The police took the rivals and presented them in a court of law, assuring me that the jury will listen and acquit me. Notably, possessing illegal firearms is prohibited as per U.S law. The police did the right thing of taking me before a court of law, which could subsequently decide whether to acquit or convict me. Therefore, I took a bureaucratic approach when dealing with the officers. I wanted to change the public mind that police officers are always cruel and arrogant people who only use excessive force when dealing with suspects.

What Was Your Favorite Part of the Book?

Alright. I can say that the favorite part of the book, in my opinion, is when I developed an understanding of the different steps and tests which I underwent before being recruited as a member of the group. As I asserted in the tome, I was forced to fight with several group members to show that I was strong and ready for the group ‘business’ (Ellison, 1961). This part connects to the exact information I wanted to write my first novel, Web of the City. I wrote this section, realizing that it has contributed to the critical knowledge I need for another story, the Web of the City novel.


Ellison, H. (1961). Memos from Purgatory. Hachette Publishers.

Lee, E.-J., & Tandoc, E. C., Jr. (2017). When news meets the audience: How audience feedback online affects news production and consumption. Human Communication Research, 43(4), 436−449. Web.

U.S. Constitution. (1992). Penalties of possessing a prohibited firearm. Article 18, Section 922. Web.

Spitzer, R. J. (2017). Gun law history in the United States and Second Amendment rights. Law & Contemporary Problems, 80(55), 55−83.

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"“Memos From Purgatory” by Ellison Harlan." StudyKraken, 21 Mar. 2022,

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StudyKraken. "“Memos From Purgatory” by Ellison Harlan." March 21, 2022.


StudyKraken. 2022. "“Memos From Purgatory” by Ellison Harlan." March 21, 2022.


StudyKraken. (2022) '“Memos From Purgatory” by Ellison Harlan'. 21 March.

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