Peter McSherry, in his own uniquely eloquent voice, shares personal stories and thoughts from a lifetime of driving cab. Reading this book was like spending time with a new and interesting friend; you know, where the hours slip by unnoticed as you listen to stories and experiences most of us could never imagine.
Peter lifts a corner of the curtain to expose, briefly, the little-known-little-appreciated life of a cab driver; stories from a world of complex connections to humanity that could come from no other source. Peter capably and succinctly moves from one experience to another with skill and ease and tells it like it is -- the good, the bad, the ugly, and especially the heart-warming respect and admiration he shows for long-term cabbies and friends he has learned from and who have left an indelible mark on his life.
Mean Streets left a feeling, a knowing, perhaps, that cab drivers probably have one of the most direct connections with humanity in all its forms and, as such, an unparalleled understanding of the human condition. Life on the streets is hard, and the monetary rewards slim; certainly many try and fail under the weight of hardships in this business. In my opinion, the dedicated few that come through decades of this hard work rightly deserve the highest degree of respect and admiration.
Throughout the book some of Peter's antidotes made me laugh right out loud. Loved the vignettes and could have read a whole book of those alone!
This book is highly recommended for everyone, including cab drivers at all levels, and especially those considering entering this barely recognized and little-understood profession.
As a lone desk clerk at the YWCA Residence in Downtown Duluth, Minnesota; I have a deep appreciation for others who, like myself, have witnessed the unthinkable during late night shifts for very little pay. Like McSherry, the lessons I learned at the Y, the only building open in all of downtown, often brought me in contact with women and sometimes men in despair, mental breakdowns, running from failed scam-pulling, prostitutes, bag ladies, etc. in a way, it's refreshing to read how he deals with whatever kind of customer he gets. I have always known that cab drivers know virtually everything that happens in any city. I felt the bond I had with the author was not our types of jobs, but what the people we came into contact with teach us: you NEVER know how or why some people fall into the pitfalls of life. What looks like hell to us is paradise to someone just regaining their lives. I am much more inspired by the people I met at that YWCA who survived terrible injustices than I am by reading about corporate executives. And that's why I was so determined to find this book, ten years after it came out.
I've fallen in love with my new city of downtown Toronto. I love his stories of old Toronto, before the million dollar condos and trendy restaurants that serve twenty dollar hamburgers. His style of writing is real - he holds nothing back and has no agenda. Anyone who has always wanted to know about Toronto's gritty '70's will love this book. As well, you will discover just how complicated and competitive the taxicab industry is. I read Mean Streets (Kindle for iPad) and it was a joy to read in this format.
Fascinating and at times chilling account of what it's like to drive a cab overnight in a big city (in this case, Toronto). The author in one chapter, offers a list of the various kinds of "eccentric" people one tends to meet when running the meter on a graveyard shift.
Two nights ago, coming home late from a party in Toronto, I flagged a cab and hopped in. The cab driver and I got to talking and discovered we were both novelists, he somewhat more ahead of the game.
He was enthusiastic about his work, as a successful writer must be, and introduced himself as Peter McSherry. Being a fellow writer, I of course had to purchase a copy he just happened to have with him and have been reading it since.
Worth its weight in cab fare
-Andrew Byer (If you read this Peter McSherry, I was the inebrated ethusiastic guy with his girl you took to Sherbourne on August 15th 2005. Told you I would not regret buying a copy.)