Avi Steinberg was moving aimlessly through life; the single-minded devotion that he had felt to the study of the Torah in his youth had not withstood...moreAvi Steinberg was moving aimlessly through life; the single-minded devotion that he had felt to the study of the Torah in his youth had not withstood the test of time. He fell into a job as a prison librarian, looking for some meaning in his life. I have no idea if he found it.
He seems to me to be a slow learner. He never really did learn, I don't think, not to trust anyone in prison. Speaking as a librarian, he doesn't seem to have a good idea of the purpose of a library; the out-of-date canard about shushing rears its ugly head at least once.
He waxes philosophic about the emotions and thoughts of the men in the prison, but doesn't examine his own feelings very well. At the end, when he's left the job there, I feel like he's no further along than he was when he started.(less)
If you watch "Late Night with Craig Ferguson", you'll probably have some set expectations of this book. I expected an irreverent sense of humor; I got...moreIf you watch "Late Night with Craig Ferguson", you'll probably have some set expectations of this book. I expected an irreverent sense of humor; I got it. I expected profanity; I got it. I expected a thoroughly enjoyable read; I got it! I did however, with some trepidation, expect some graphic details of his life as an alcoholic; I didn't get that. Not that he glosses over that period of his life (it obviously had a major effect on who he is today), he just doesn't go into elaborate details of the physical aspects of it. He does cover, much more, how it affected his relationships, and that's far more interesting anyway.
What didn't I expect? I didn't expect him to be so humble and so grateful to the people in his life. I didn't expect him to be so profoundly thankful to be able to fulfill his lifelong dream of living in America, and, eventually, becoming a naturalized citizen. And I didn't expect him to be so respectful of his Scottish heritage at the same time.
I liked that Ferguson loves the US, but refrains from jingoism. He takes full responsibility for all his bad choices, and usually gives credit for his good ones to others. His auto-biography is a breezy, funny read, which seems a strange appeal for an alcoholic's memoir. It's going to have staying power in my mind, which considering that somedays I can barely remember my children's names, that says more than you may know! I've got his novel "Between the Bridge and the River" on my to-read list. I hope I enjoy it as much as this one.(less)