I just finished reading a wonderful “memoir” about the writer’s life. I say that in quotes because the book is not a typical memoir but rather a collection of essays written by the author and pubished as a column in The Times Supplement. The book is called “Beg, Borrow, Steal: the Writer’s Life,” written by Michael Greenberg. In wonderful bite-sized pieces, Greenberg, who never went to college or formally studied literature or journalism, chronicles his journey through heartache and setbacks to become a writer. He’s a very good writer and I highly recommend it.
Here are some comments from another review, written by Adam Kirsch in Tablet: “Greenberg undoubtedly belongs in a book by Saul Bellow. â€œAs I saw it, the real sacrifice was on the part of those who had to toe the line and forswear a free-style existence,â€ Greenberg writes of his adolescent self, cleverly alluding both to the title of his column and to that famous freelance, Augie March: â€œâ€™First to knock, first admitted,â€™ in Saul Bellowâ€™s words. â€˜Sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent.â€™â€ Following this creed, Greenberg never went to college, choosing instead to run away from home as a teenager, then prowl New York and the world in search of the writerâ€™s elixir, experience. Yet in Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writerâ€™s Lifeâ€”the terrific new collection of Greenbergâ€™s â€œFreelanceâ€ columns, just published by Other Pressâ€”he is mainly concerned to show the downside of experience. The book is a chronicle, not of failure exactly, but of constant struggleâ€”against the slipperiness of the writerâ€™s vocation, against the psychological burdens of family and Jewishness, but most straightforwardly, as the title suggests, the struggle just to earn a living.”