Prodigal Father Pagan Son by Anthony L.T. Menginie

Prodigal Father Pagan Son by Anthony L.T. Menginie
St. Martin’s Press June 2012

Most books about bikers suck, and that sucks. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels and Sonny Barger’s autobiography are really cool, but are basically myths at this point. Everything else sucks or is written by a former federal agent or snitch, and that sucks. This book tells the tale from a different perspective. First thing, as much as the title would indicate otherwise, this is not about the Pagans MC. Yes, they are a part of the story, along with brutal violence/sex/drugs/abuse/etc. However, what it really is is the story of the most fucked up childhood that I’ve read about in a long time.

Anthony was abandoned by his mother while his high-ranking biker father was in prison. He was raised by the club, in the clubs environment, with everything that came with it. This is not the fabled Hell’s Angels or Sons of Anarchy. It’s the Philly chapter of the Pagans. This is a Roger Corman script directed by Rob Zombie. By the time Anthony is 13, he has been to thirteen funerals. He has seen things that kids shouldn’t see. Anthony is a true survivor, although at times I found myself wondering how he got out and was able to write this book without going over the line and becoming a full patch member himself. He left the Pagans as a prospect while still young.

The book was written in a very non-linear style that reminded me of other true crime books: Tom Folsom’s The Mad Ones about mobster “Crazy” Joe Gallo; and For the Sins of My Father by Al DeMeo (read it). The story jumps around and is descriptive in a way that forces you to really picture the situation Anthony is in. The cover art and title are totally wrong for the book, which tells me it has been marketed wrong. I loved this book, it just could have promoted better. It’s like an indie film in an IMAX theater: no need at all.

Dave Wahlman