A scattershot, unmulled memoir—startling in its casual violence and voracious intoxication—from a New York City badboy who doesn’t seem terribly concerned about the trouble he left in his wake.
The story is a bit overmuch, this life that seems to have been left in the hands of some mad autopilot, for Montiel rarely appears to be in charge. After the booze and girls and drugs and fights, the minor flash of celebrity and endless haul through nights of one debauch or another—“It was an insane wild terrific night,” he’ll say time and again, though getting fried and staying up until dawn may not be everyone’s idea of a terrific night—he never stops to wonder what the point was. But perhaps it’s easier not to have a point (how else to explain this “perfect moment”: “I took three blows, two to the head and one across my face by a Puerto Rican with a baseball bat on Steinway Street and felt like a man for some crazy reason”), or maybe that’s just how they raise them in Astoria, Queens. Or maybe not: his father comes across as fairly caring and attentive, even if the glimpses we get of him are stream-of-consciousness noodlings about his tastes in local TV news, or that “one of my fondest memories of my father unfortunately involves an accordion.” The brawls and cruel pranks and nonstop mind-bending are Montiel’s alone, and it gets tedious. His friends may be loyal, but they get a clichéd hack job: “Jimmy taught me to be tougher that the toughest. To be real. To be true.” Real and true to what?
Trying hard to be a Beat, but without the brains. He even spent time with Allen Ginsberg, to no discernible effect. (photos)