Friday, March 30, 2007

Book: The Birthday Party, by Stanley N. Alpert (2007)

Alpert was an assistant U.S. attorney in New York City when, in 1998, he was abducted off the street by a trio of thugs. What was supposed to be a quick forced trip to the ATM became a 25-hour kidnapping ordeal. Although he was offered drugs and sexual favors once his abductors discovered it was his birthday.

The second section of Alpert’s memoir, recounting how his captors were caught, drags a bit. But his recreation of his own experience is riveting, and offers an object lesson in how to remain cool under pressure. Here are a few others things I learned:

1. Those oddball crime stories treated as curiosities by the news are significant events for those involved – and if they’re lucky, they won’t be defined by them.

2. There’s no point in waiting until your life is almost over to start living it. Or as Alpert puts it, order what you want when you want it.

3. Never wear a nice trench coat in Manhattan. You’re just asking for trouble.