Long ago I joined the chorus calling Pete Hamill a New York City Treasure. I enthusiastically expand the geography to a National Treasure! Pete Hamill again earns those accolades with his new novel Tabloid City! If you have an ounce of New York City in your DNA you will be captured by Hamill’s intimacy with his beloved turf.
Tabloid City is set within 24-hours of life in New York. Terrorist plot, a daily afternoon newspaper in its last days, the legendary editor, typewriters, reporters who can not write without a cigarette, society ladies, an embittered disabled veteran, lost love, misplaced affection and a very old man who in his dying days does the right thing! There is a line in Tabloid City that perfectly describes Hamill. The copy refers to Sam Briscoe, editor of the The World. ” You’re such a lucky man, Sam. You didn’t get the world secondhand. You didn’t take a course in it. You Lived it! ” That is Pete Hamill! The Wood! ( You will see).
There are three other Pete Hamill books which I relished with wonder. Downtown, My Manhattan. The title says it all! A moving memoir of Hamill’s days and nights in New York from Times Square to the tip of Manhattan. Street corners, movie theaters, the pulse of anger, rebellion, hope, enterprise, greed and celebration. The writing of a newspaperman. Not a wasted word!
One of Pete’s greatest treasures is PIECEWORK (1996) a compendium of his best writings dating back to 1970. Men and women, small pleasures, lost cities within the city, Gotti, Sinatra, Vietnam, Lebanon, Tyson, Madonna, cigarettes, typewriters, linotype , deadlines and headlines.
Hamill’s novel Snow in August, ( 1997) is a fabulous read. A story that could only unfold in New York where people who shouldn’t get along do so and where relationships blossom out of fear and mis-understanding. Snow in August is about Catholics and Jews, hope and transformation through the creation of characters in a plot that is entwined in the culture of Hamill’s town. These are just four of Pete Hamill ” treasures.” Others include North River, Forever, A Drinking Life and Why Sinatra Matters. Summer is coming. Go for them all!