Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Steve Geng's "Thick as Thieves"

I read Steve Geng's Thick as Thieves a couple of months ago and have been eagerly awaiting the reviews.

Toni Bentley got it just about right in the Sunday New York Times Book Review:

Thick as Thieves does not, to Geng’s credit, propound the false heroics of addiction and recovery so popular in the media these days. It just shows us how lies destroy love — no solutions, no wisdom…. His book, one surmises, would not make his sister [the late Veronica Geng of The New Yorker] laugh, but weep with pride at the little boy with oatmeal on his head.

Bentley also confirmed one of my thoughts about the book:

For anyone who still hasn’t reached personal closure with James “I am an Alcoholic and I am a Drug Addict and I am a Criminal” Frey and his self-aggrandizement, Geng’s memoir... is here as a reminder: addicts lie as often as they need a fix. What was so disturbing about the Frey debacle was not his deceit, but that the entire world, and Oprah Winfrey, were so surprised at his mendacity.

I enjoyed Frey's book but never bought it as factual. Geng's book also gives off a similar vibe but, unlike Frey's, there is nothing in it that doesn't, on reflection, pass the smell test: Geng's life is nothing like mine, but I do believe that many people (too many, sadly) have shared his experiences.

One thing Bentley's review gets wrong: "Geng’s narrative ... races along in tight, low-key, Elmore Leonard-like prose while he’s high, violent and angry."

"Elmore Leonard-like prose?" Oh, c'mon....

--Marshal Zeringue