Michael Greenberg moved out of his family’s Upper East Side apartment and into a Greenwich Village studio with his girlfriend when he was fifteen. By the time he was 21, he was married, a father, and hellbent on becoming a writer. He snagged a few ghostwriting and potboiler jobs, and supplemented his earnings working as a postal employee, NYC cabbie, Spanish tutor, waiter, hotel desk clerk, cosmetics salesman — anything but a full-time, official job that would distract him from his calling. His most sustained and sustaining writing gig has been as a columnist for the Times Literary Supplement, to which he has contributed a series of essays that are consistently interesting, forthright, and funny, now collected in Beg, Borrow, Steal. The title refers to a writer’s need to exploit any material at his disposal, which can mean incurring the fury of the writer’s nearest and dearest. (“Michael, please stop writing this kind of thing,” his mother and brothers have pleaded.) Greenberg’s breakthrough memoir, Hurry Down Sunshine (Other Press, 2008), now in paperback, chronicled his daughter Sally’s descent into the madness and despair of bipolar disorder.
In these finely turned columns, Greenberg’s candid, disarming voice reveals a honed sense of irony gained over a lifetime spent befriending the oddballs, con men, and hard luck types who comprise a significant segment of New York City. Embedded within the essays are Greenberg’s takes on books and writers, well-known and obscure. This is a rewarding encounter with an engaging, unusual literary sensibility.
Carol is the executive editor of Jewish Book Council. She joined the JBC as the editor of Jewish Book World in 2003, shortly after her son’s bar mitzvah. Before having a family she held positions as an editor and copywriter and is the author of two books on tennis and other racquet sports. She is a native New Yorker and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a BA and MA in English.