9781590513415

Beg, Borrow, Steal

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781590513415

  • ISBN10:

    159051341X

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-09-08
  • Publisher: Other Press
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Summary

To the literary elite, Michael Greenberg has always been known for his trenchant and moving columns that appear biweekly in theTimes Literary Supplement. But when critics hailed his memoirHurry Down Sunshineas a classic, Greenberg became a household name.Black Suit, Worn Once $45is an autobiography in installments, set in NewYork, where the author depicts the life of a writer of little means trying to practice his craft, or simply stay alive. He finds himself writing about golf, a game that he never played; doctoring doomed movie scripts; driving trucks and taxis; selling cosmetics from an ironing board in front of a women's department store; and botching his debut as a waiter in a coveted five-star restaurant. Central characters include the City of All Cities; Michael's father, whose scrap metal business looms large; his elegant mother; his first wife, Robin, whom he met in a Greenwich Village high school; their son, Aaron, who grew up on the Lower East Side; a repentant communist who fought in the Spanish Civil War; a Chilean filmmaker in search of his past; rats who behave like humans; beggars who are poets; a man who becomes a woman; and a woman who prefers to live underground. Greenberg creates a world where the familial, the incongruous, the literary, the humorous, the tragic, and the prosaic not only speak to each other, but deeply enjoy the exchange. Praising Greenberg and his column in theNew York Times, Rachel Donadio wrote: "Imagine The Talk of the Town as if written by Dostoyevsky." This is an entirely original book, whose writing is magical and whose insights are deceptively profound.

Author Biography

A native New Yorker, Michael Greenberg is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Hurry Down Sunshine (Other Press, 2008), which was chosen as one of the best books of 2008 by Time, the San Francisco Chronicle, Amazon.com, and Library Journal. He is a columnist for the Times Literary Supplement (London), where his wide ranging essays have been appearing since 2003. His fiction, criticism, and travel pieces have been published in such varied places as O, The Oprah Magazine and The New York Review of Books. He lives in New York with his wife and son.

Excerpts

My old man was like Zeus’s father Cronos: he couldn’t bear the idea that any of his children might surpass him. Life radiated from the central pulse of his scrap-metal yard; the world beyond it seemed to make him defensive and nervous. Self-conscious about his lack of formal education, he took my bookishness as a personal affront. “Which do you think is worth more,” he once asked me, “a commodity or some goddamn idea?”

Among the family, my violent fights with him were famous. The last one occurred when I was fifteen. I followed him around the apartment, taunting him with a line from my latest poem, “Which do you think is worth more, flesh or steel?” At the end of his rope, he took a wild swing at me. I dodged it easily, hearing the crush of bone as his fist hit the wall. I fled the apartment, and when I returned, three days later, his hand was in a cast. “You have guts, but no common sense,” he said. “One cancels out the other. A total waste.”

A week later, I moved away from home, supporting myself with a night job in a bookstore.

Nevertheless, when I was in my early twenties, driving a cab, with a newborn son at home, my father offered me a chance to join the family business. “You get all the major holidays,” he said. “You quit work every day at five. And to make a living you don’t have to be a genius.” He seemed hurt when I turned him down. “Those notebooks you scribble in won’t get you on the goddam subway,” he said. He was right, and during the lean years that followed I sometimes imagined that he was eyeing me with satisfaction.

Excerpted from Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writer's Life by Michael Greenberg
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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