Oscar-winning Pulp Fiction writer tweets from prison

Roger Avary gives grim but amusing insight into life inside a Californian jail
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The Independent US

Like most users of Twitter, Roger Avary keeps the world abreast of his daily monotonies, telling thousands of his "followers" what he has eaten for lunch, what he's reading, and passing wry comment about the people he comes across and their conversations.

Uniquely, though, Avery, who wrote the films Pulp Fiction and Beowulf, is tweeting from behind bars. In September, he was sentenced to a year inside after being convicted of manslaughter for his role in a fatal drink-driving accident. Since then, the Oscar-winning screenwriter's 140-character observations have slowly gained what passes for a cult following, providing a vivid and grimly amusing take on life inside Ventura County Prison in California.

"The inmates stage mock trials to solve humorous disputes like 'did you fart or not?' complete with judge, jury, lawyers, and punishments," reads one of his most recent posts, which are filed at a rate of one or two a day.

No one knows how Avary has been able to file updates from the prison. Many of them say they were made "from the web", suggesting that he has access to a computer.

But others come from Twitteriffic, an iPhone application, leading to speculation – given that mobile phones are verboten in prison – that he may be using prison payphones to call a friend on the outside who is making the updates.

"The loudspeaker in each cell blurts out commands ('Number 34 report to Control!') and is able to listen in on inmate conversations," reads one such update. "Wash day! The 'clean' sheets reek from the nut sweat of a thousand men. Pubes & hair must be peeled off before making your bunk," reads another.

The film-maker's Twitter account, @avary, has not been formally "verified", but his former screenwriting partner, Neil Gaiman, has vouched for its authenticity, saying: "It's riveting, horrible, strange. Jail in 140-character lumps."

Avary arrived at the jail after pleading guilty to drink-driving, at speeds of 100mph, through Los Angeles. His car hit a telephone pole, killing one of his passengers, an Italian friend of Mr Avary called Andreas Zini, and seriously injuring another, his wife.

Despite the tragic nature of his incarceration, many of his updates are darkly humorous. In one, he observes that the prison porridge arrives in the kitchen in bags, "with a picture of a horse on them, labelled 'not intended for human consumption'."

His tweets provide a disturbing insight into America's criminal justice system, discussing how violent gangs use the facility to recruit new members, and how inmates pass the time learning how to hot-wire cars. "Night falls, and the only real activity is an endless recounting of the terrible and pointless events that brought us all to this sad place," he reflects.

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