Tuesday, September 08, 2009
A Book Review:
Beg, Borrow, Steal
A Writer’s Life
by Michael Greenburg
Each chapter feels like a scrapbook page of Michael Greenburg’s life. As the son of a cantankerous scrap metal owner, Greenburg left home and dropped out of high school to live the writer’s life. Making a living is the challenge he faces taking jobs, driving cabs, selling cosmetics, writing scripts about golf, teaching Spanish and ghostwriting memoirs.
Filled with a trunk load of curious and interesting characters, including old Hebrew school chums, immigrant neighbors, fellow street vendors, shady movie producers, drag queens, rats and coffee house baristas, Greenburg gives you a chance to peek into their world through his eyes.
The chapter on living in Argentina with his high school sweetheart is a touching thrill ride as she barely survives being shot in a Buenos Aires prison riot and they escape into the country celebrating life and conceiving their son. The memory of his neighbor, the tailor and a fortune lost is heartbreaking. His description of his unsuccessful career as a waiter shows his dedication to his writing as well as his longing for a steady paycheck. My favorite was the story of Eli, the difficult dachshund whose story is one that ends happily.
There’s no doubt that Greenburg is an excellent writer and his life has been filled with adventures of living a creative life. He’s a columnist for Times Literary Supplement, author of a successful memoir, “Hurry Down Sunshine”, articles in O, The Oprah Magazine, and The New York Times Review of Books. His stories are compelling, readable and enjoyable.