The Art of the Heist Book Review

I one day hope to write an autobiography WITHOUT a mugshot on the cover.
One day I hope to write an autobiography WITHOUT a mugshot on the cover.

I read a book recently called The Art of the Heist. It’s an autobiography/memoir written by Myles J. Connor Jr. He was assisted in writing the book by Jenny Siler.

The title probably gives a pretty good hint that Connor is a career thief. He made his living robbing banks and he had a side hobby of stealing valuable art pieces.

The book starts off by describing a museum robbery that occurred while Connor was in jail. The police blamed Connor for the robbery and as he explains later on, he had given advice to the people that committed the crime on how to rob the museum.

The story shifts next to Connor’s failed jailbreak from the first time he was incarcerated. Finally, after all that, it begins telling his story in chronological order, from his first robbery to his eventual third incarceration decades later for dealing drugs.

The stories of how he committed his robberies are interesting. Most of the time it was a combination of inside knowledge and poor security on the part of the place he was robbing.

Connor talks about how he’d learn a museum’s security by posing as a donator to the museum. He’d get a tour of the facility including places that normal visitors don’t get to see. He’d then come back a few weeks later at night, sneak through a window, and take whatever he wanted.

What makes the story so interesting is that you start rooting for Connor.

Several times Connor is accused of crimes that he didn’t commit and is put on trial. He deserves to go to jail, but for different reasons than those he is accused of. The writing made me share in his frustration of being falsely accused.

It’s also very clear that Connor is an intelligent person who could’ve done a lot of good things if he hadn’t been so attracted to stealing things.

His SAT scores are amazing, he’s smart enough to organize a criminal gang for years without being caught, and he’s smart enough to have a college-educated girlfriend who is aware of his crimes, but never has enough information that she can testify against him.

There’s some stuff about how criminals act that comes up in the book that I wouldn’t get to see in my daily life. Connor talks about honor amongst criminals. He has a code for how people act when they’re part of his gang. Two of his members break that code and he almost kills them. Criminals operate outside of the law, but they still enforce rules upon themselves to maintain some amount of order.

Connor also discusses his perpetual battle with the police. I think he views the police and the government as “just the crime gang in charge of everyone else.”

When the cops are unable to find enough evidence to arrest Connor for crimes that he did commit they start building cases to connect him to crimes he was only loosely involved in.

The false cases bring to light what might be a common practice in the judicial system. The State’s Attorney comes up to a criminal and says something along the lines of, “Confess to your crime and testify that this other guy I want to arrest committed a similar crime and I’ll cut your prison sentence in half.”

If the other guy didn’t commit that crime, there’s still a heavy incentive for the first criminal to lie and say he did. That’s exactly what happens to Connor on more than one occasion.

I’d recommend Art of the Heist for anyone who likes thriller novels or who has always wondered how criminals think. For people interested in a dramatic story, I should say that there were parts of the book where I had to put it down for several days before I was ready to read it again as the material was so intense.

I looked up Connor to see what he’s doing now that he’s out of prison. Apparently he was arrested in 2012 for petty theft of a cellphone. This was apparently part of a drug deal gone bad, but there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him of that. Even at over 70 years old he is still a career criminal because, as he says in is book, “he enjoys it.”

-GoCorral

In Time Movie Review

I watched the movie In Time the other night. The movie stars Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, and Cillian Murphy.

I was not satisfied with the movie based on what I’d seen in the trailers.

The premise of the movie is that in the near future all medical problems have been eliminated.

Additionally, now that people are effectively immortal there isn’t really any reason to use any normal currency because eventually anybody will accumulate an infinite amount.

Instead of spending money, people spend time. Time is the remaining years, weeks, days, minutes, and seconds in someone’s life.

When someone turns twenty five their clock begins. You an see the clock on Timberlake’s arm in the above poster. When someone’s clock runs out that person suffers an instantly fatal heart attack.

The clock starts with a year on it. Time is spent on everything, coffee, taxi rides, movies. Everything.

And all income is in the form of time. If you work for a day at a factory then maybe you earn two days of time. One day to buy stuff with and one day to live with.

The movie villains are the rich who hoard time in order to live forever. The rich drive prices up in the ghetto to steal time from the poor because “not everyone can live forever.”

The movie heroes, Timberlake and Seyfried, fight back by stealing the hoarded time from rich banks where time is stored physically somehow and redistributing it to the poor. Surprisingly the movie never mentions the name of Robin Hood.

Giving time to the poor is somehow supposed to make them realize that the system is killing them, but the epilogue shows only that the poor are happy frivolously spending their money on vacations. The rich don’t lose power and the poor don’t gain any. What was the point if the poor waste their money on a week of pleasure?

There’s other problems with the currency system that are never explained.

Theoretically the only time that exists in the system is one year for each person when they turn 25. The average age would be around 25 because most of that time is spent on food, rent, clothes, etc.

Where is all the extra time coming from? Are there power plants that produce time? Or is the rich oligarchy just minting time and using it to pay their workers?

The rich are right in a sense. If everyone lived forever then the world would be overpopulated, but is the rich effectively murdering the poor really the plan that was landed on?

Why not use a traditional currency and set everyone’s clocks to one hundred years? Then people still have long lives with predictable deaths and the economy has a natural development instead of being controlled by some strange merchant dictatorship.

Plus, the script was clunky and the acting was bad. I’ve seen good acting from all these actors though, so I’m tempted to blame the director. The director, Andrew Niccol, also wrote the script, so really all the blame lies at his feet.

Niccol’s other movies are really good though. I’d recommend checking out Gattaca which has a similar premise and The Terminal.

As for In Time, it had a cool premise, but failed to make that premise compelling or interesting outside of the trailer. The other parts of the movie weren’t so hot either. I’d avoid it unless you’re dying for people to talk about wealth in amounts of years instead of thousands of dollars.

-Mister Ed