Grisly tales of a notorious East Coast biker gang.
The book begins promisingly, with a clipped, vibrant prose style, presumably due to the efforts of co-author and defense attorney Droban (Running With the Devil: The True Story of the ATF’s Infiltration of the Hell’s Angels, 2008). Menginie was born into the “family” of the Pagans, an old-school outlaw motorcycle gang. His father, “Maingy,” was a Pagans leader, until he was incarcerated and, much later, became a “turncoat,” joining the Hells Angels, their historical rival. Maingy hardly appears within the narrative, except as an object of his son’s hatred. Early chapters portraying Menginie’s childhood are grim: “Beauty didn’t survive in the biker world without sacrifice. Pretty things wilted and were reduced to mere property. The only way my mom made sense of her life was to destroy it.” By adolescence, he’d witnessed addiction, violence and group sex, but some of the adult bikers, like the mostly good “Saint” and the mostly evil “Gorilla,” helped him along. While the Saint encouraged him to be his own person, Gorilla groomed him for club membership as a “Prospect” (like pledging a fraternity, but a more lengthy and brutal process). This involved fulfilling Gorilla’s criminal schemes, under the guise of Pagan “brotherhood.” During this time, the Pagans’ rivalry with organized crime in Philadelphia was heating up, as was the conflict with the Hells Angels; Gorilla was obsessed with the turncoats, and ordered Menginie to plan their murders. While the author did not commit any such acts, other public mayhem drew police and media attention, including the shooting of Gorilla, an act for which the author’s father was suspected: “Gorilla had me convinced that I had to finish off my old man.” Instead, Menginie abruptly quit the Pagans’ grim lifestyle. Except for Gorilla—Steven Mondevergine, a notorious figure recently indicted for attempted murder—few of the actual participants in Menginie’s world are clearly identified, and the narrative isn’t backed up with clear sourcing or fuller context. While this may suggest underworld authenticity, it makes the memoir hard to follow.
Brash and macho, but doesn’t present a coherent narrative.