Our score: 3 out of 5 stars
Lorri Davis was a single woman, living in New York City, when she was invited by a friend to go to an early screening of a new documentary. What she saw changed her life. Lorri saw alienation, and she saw herself being represented onscreen. Coming from the South she had always felt like she didn’t belong there, and that she did not fit in with those around her. This documentary showed her a teen-age boy who had gone through the same situation: only a hundred times worse. The documentary was “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills” and the teen-age boy she identified with was Damien Echols; one of the West Memphis Three.
The story of the West Memphis Three, as told through “Paradise Lost” stuck with Lorri, and haunted her. She became relatively obsessed with Damien, and could not get him out of her head. So, like dozens of others whom viewed the same film, Lorri decided to write to Damien. And so began a love story like no other.
Damien and Lorri started to write each other letters, reaching a point to where they both would write several letters a day. They felt a real connection with each other, and within less than four years they were married. The ceremony being unique in and of itself: a Buddhist ceremony held on Death Row. Lorri Davis would soon quit her job, move to Arkansas, and lead a team of investigators and lawyers to one day bring release and exoneration to her husband. While the release has occurred, the exoneration still has not.
In “West of Memphis”, one of the four documentaries that cover the West Memphis Three case, Lorri mentions her and Damien having written somewhere around 5,000 letters to each other; all between 1996 and 2011 (the latter being the year Damien was released from prison). Lorri also states in the film that she had contemplated burning all of the letters; presumably as a way to start anew and move on. However, she and Damien did no such thing.
“Yours For Eternity: A Love Story on Death Row” is a collection of a very small portion of those letters; as well as present day notes to fill the reader in on the authors’ mindsets. Giving bits of notations to things referenced or alluded to. It truly is a wonderful journey into the minds of two people; two people slowly falling in love, no less. Damien has always been a writer and a poet. Having self-published a memoir in 2005 called “Almost Home”, and an updated version of the same book, with more content, in 2012 entitled “Life After Death”.
“Yours For Eternity” offers a unique perspective on the West Memphis Three case, in as much as it almost has nothing to do with the case itself; but offers a look at the circumstances Damien and Lorri were put in because of the case. Together they don’t spend their time delving into clues and information about who may or may not have committed the crimes; they leave that to the outside world. Within the letters they spend their energy trying to decipher and decode each other. They create a world and a life together using only their words. Damien and Lorri built a friendship, relationship, and a marriage, using the only thing Damien was allowed to have on Death Row: anything made of paper.
This book is a fast and easy read, and it’s rather beautiful. The reader is allowed access to the most intimate of thoughts and feelings and will allow you to view the people involved in this case in a whole new light. Damien Echols and Lorri Davis are currently traveling the United States in support of this book. Go see them if they come to your city.
- Book Reviews “The World According to Iron Man” and “The World According to Thor”
- Book Review: Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk”
- Book Review: Lita Ford “Living Like A Runaway”
- Book Review “Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth: Inside the Creation of a Modern Fairy Tale”
- Book Review: “Access All Areas: Stories from a Hard Rock Life” by Scott Ian