It was disturbing to come across one particular section of Randy Dotinga’s Morning Report on July 6, especially its incendiary headline (“Local Literary Agent Signs a Killer”), which sensationalizes and oversimplifies the story’s message. The writeup is also misleading, conveying the impression that the author Curtis Dawkins received a six-figure advance, without clarifying that he is not profiting off his book deal in any way – all monies go into an education fund for his children.

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It is disappointing to see a trusted local news source stoop to this kind of level of distortion.

While the New York Times profile of Dawkins gave lots of attention to his crime – which is a constant part of his life and for which he pays each and every day – at least it attempted to be balanced, giving the context of prison literature as a whole, and of Dawkins’ history as a writer, and what his book means to the literary world, and to giving prisoners a voice. The Voice of San Diego piece made no attempt to anything but a very limited and damaging view of the author as well as of my work as Dawkins’ proud agent.

Condemned to live with the memory of his crime, and incarcerated for the rest of his days, Dawkins has found a way to wrest beauty from tragedy, by holding up a mirror to us all, and we should respect and even celebrate that. It is a great shame that Voice of San Diego chose, instead, to publish an announcement of this news as sensationalized tabloid gossip.

Sandra Dijkstra is a literary agent. Dijkstra’s letter has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

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