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Monday, June 20, 2011

Destined for Distinguished Awards~ "Tabloid City" by Pete Hamill

Published by:  Hachette Publishing/Little, Brown and Co.
Ppgs:  228

Summary: Publisher's Weekly:

Hamill (North River) forays into Dominic Dunne society crime territory before veering uncomfortably into a far-fetched terrorist plot. Just as the last ever edition of the New York World is getting put to bed, veteran editor Sam Briscoe stops the presses for a sensational murder: socialite Cynthia Harding and her personal secretary are found stabbed to death in Harding's Manhattan town house. The story unfolds in time-stamped, you-are-there bursts that follow a large cast, including several journalists; Cynthia's adopted daughter; a disgraced Madoff-like financier; a media blogger; the murdered secretary's husband, a police officer assigned to a counterterrorism task force, as well as their son, a convert to radical Islam; and best of all by the weary and worldly Briscoe himself. Hamill is at his best in the Briscoe portions, rich in print anecdotes and mournful for a passing age, but as both the initial murders and the closing of the paper play into a larger plot and the young extremist becomes the driving force of the novel, the quality slides precipitously, and, as if sensing defeat, the book is brought to a too abrupt conclusion with most of the principals gathered for a group of scenes that strain credulity. Hamill nails the dying newsroom, but gets lost on the terrorism beat. (May)
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Who Is Pete Hamill?
Pete Hamill is a novelist, journalist, editor, and screenwriter. He is the author of 20 previous books including the bestselling novels Forever and Snow in August and the bestselling memoir A Drinking Life. He lives in New York City.

In the summer of 1960, Hamill went to work as a reporter for the New York Post and began to learn his craft (the story is told in his 1994 memoir, A Drinking Life.) In 1962-63, a prolonged newspaper strike led him to writing magazine articles and by the fall of 1963 he was in Europe as a correspondent for the Saturday Evening Post. Based for six months in Barcelona, and five months in Dublin, he roamed Europe, interviewing actors, movie directors, novelists and ordinary citizens. He was in Belfast with his father on Nov. 22, 1963, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and he witnessed both sides of the sectarian quarrel mourning the fallen American president.
Hamill returned to New York in August 1964, covered the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, and worked briefly at the New York Herald Tribune as a feature writer. In the fall of 1965, he started writing a column for the New York Post. By Christmas, he was in Vietnam. His newspaper career would go on for decades, at the Post, the New York Daily News, the Village Voice, and New York Newsday. He would serve briefly as editor of the Post, and later as editor-in-chief-of the Daily News. His longer journalistic work has appeared in New York magazine, the New Yorker, Esquire, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and other periodicals.
From the beginning, he has been a generalist, not a specialist. He has written about wars in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Lebanon and Northern Ireland. He covered the urban riots of the 1960s. He has covered local and national politics. He wrote about the New York underclass too, their hopes and ambitions, and sometimes, tragedies. But he also wrote about jazz, rock 'n' roll (winning a 1975 Grammy for Best Liner Notes for Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks"), boxing, baseball, and art. At different periods (in addition to Barcelona and Dublin), he has lived in Mexico City, San Juan, P.R., Rome, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, N.M. He has always returned to New York.

In 1968, Hamill published his first novel, a thriller called "A Killing for Christ," about a plot to assassinate the Pope on Easter Sunday in Rome. This was followed by a short semi-autobiographical novel called "The Gift", where he first began using his Brooklyn roots in a fictional form. Most of his fiction is also set in New York City, including "Snow in August" (1997), "Forever" (2003), and "North River" (2007). All were from Little, Brown and Company, as is his eleventh novel, "Tabloid City", to be published in May 2011.

In addition, he has published more than 100 short stories in newspapers, following the example of fiction writers from O. Henry to Alberto Moravia. In the New York Post, the Hamill short stories were part of a series called "The Eight Million." In the Daily News, the stories ran under the title "Tales of New York."  He has published two volumes of short stories: "The Invisible City: A New York Sketchbook" (Random House. 1980) and "Tokyo Sketches" (Kodansha. 1992).

Memoir, Art, Photography:
Hamill's 1994 memoir, "A Drinking Life", was a critical and commercial success. It chronicled his journey from childhood into his thirties, his embrace of drinking and the decision to abandon it. The late Frank McCourt once told him that Hamill's book encouraged him to complete his own memoir, "Angela's Ashes." Hamill's portrait of "Downtown: My Manhattan" (Little, Brown. 2004) is a combination of memoir, history, and reporting about the area of Manhattan where he has spent much of his adult life. It includes some of his own reporting on the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, at which he was present.
His passions for art and for Mexico drive his book on the muralist Diego Rivera (Abrams. 1999), a lavishly illustrated volume that explores, among other matters, the effects of ideology on Rivera's art. In "Tools as Art" (Abrams. 1995) he moves through the Hechinger Collection, exploring the idea of tools and the way artists see them (and use them). His biographical essay on the artist was featured in "Underground Together: The Art and Life of Harvey Dinnerstein" (Chronicle Books. 2008). Much of Dinnerstein's work is infused with the light of Hamill's Brooklyn, and the  people who live there, walking its streets, riding its ferries and subways.
Hamill has often said that he has learned much from photographersoften about their work. In "New York: City of Islands" (Monacelli Press. 2007), he celebrates his home city as captured by the lens of Jake Rajs. "New York Exposed: Photographs from the Daily News" (Abrams.2001) contains an extended essay about the New York Daily News and its crucial role in the story of photography in American journalism. In his introduction to "Mexico: The Revolution and Beyond" (Aperture. 2003), Hamill tells the story of  Agustin Victor Casasola, whose great photographs helped define the Revolution of 1910-1920 and the  surge towards modernity that arrived when the shooting ended. In his introduction to "A Living Lens: Photographs of Jewish Life From the Pages of the Forward" (Norton. 2007) Hamill evokes the great days of the Yiddish press. His text for "The Times Square Gym" (Evan. 1996) explores the lives of the prizefighters in John Goodman's superb photographs. His introduction to "Garden of Dreams: Madison Square Garden" (Stewart Tabori & Chang.2004) offers a context for the sports photography of George Kalinski. His own Irish heritage permeates the text for "The Irish Face in America" (Bulfinch. 2004) as seen by the photographer Jim Smith.

Awards and Honors:
Across five decades, Hamill has received  numerous awards and honors. Among them:
  -2011. The A.J. Liebling Lifetime Achievement Award. Boxing Writers of America.
       -2010. The Louis Auchincloss Prize. Museum of the City of New York
      -2010. Doctor of Letters. St. John's University. Queens N.Y.
      -2010. Honorary high school diploma. Regis High School. New York, N.Y.  
      -2009.Chosen as one of 400 Most Influential New Yorkers in Past 400 Years. Museum of the City of New York
       -2005.Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award. National Society of Newspaper Columnists
       -2000. Lifetime Achievement Award. Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
       -1999. Listed as one of the noted Irish-Americans of the 20th Century. Irish-America magazine.
       -1998. Hall of Fame. Deadline Club/ Society of Professional Journalists    
       -1998. Damon Runyon Award. Denver Press Club.
       -1993. ACE award. National Cartoonists Society
       - 1992. Peter Kihss Award. Society of  Silurians.
       - 1989. Lifetime Achievement Award. Society of Silurians.
       -1980. Doctor of Humane Letters (honorary). Pratt Institute.
       -1975. Grammy award for Best Liner Notes (Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks")
       -1971. Spur award for best movie script ("Doc"). Western Writers of America.
       -1962. Meyer Berger Award. Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

My Humble Review:
The very distinguished Mr. Pete Hamill has written a brilliant novel that is destined for the highest accolades and awards in literary circles, in my humble opinion.  With a genius and brilliance that startles in virtually every paragraph and page, Mr. Hamill stands as an author destined to make history in our classical American literature. Of course, he has already done that...

Not only will you find the living pulse of New Yorkers in "Tabloid City," but you will experience the extraordinary: the viseral, psychological, emotional and internal language of his protagonists. I was literally knocked back in my seat with Hamill's knowledge of a woman's inner dialog in her intimate life. And, his ability to reach inside the mind of a radical religious follower is particularly rare to the degree it's conveyed in his novel.

Hamill's method incorporated of tabloid-style vignettes to relay his characters' lives echos the 21st century's mindset, culture, and reliance upon flash news, grit/trash and instant gratification  we've so become familiar. This commentary on our world today, where real news and newpapers have become virtually obsolete; however, is not to say he compromises his own genius creative skills.

As a student of fine arts and art history myself, Pete Hamill shed a light on my ignorance of contemporary, notable artists and methods.  I had to research!  I was simply chagrined to realize this important part of my life had been left stagnant in these recent years. My hand had stopped reaching for "ArtNews" since I left Boston for FL nearly 8 yrs ago. "Tabloid City" touched me "at home" and it gave me some much needed enlightenment.

In "Tabloid City" you will find a great love story, a murder and suspense, humor, power punches of knowledge, wit, the urbane and vanity of NYC, quotes from the rich and famous, death and dying,love and competition. Literature is discussed in thrilling, suscinct terms that shed a light of wisdom often not considered.  We hear of Murder Inc., the brassy mofia of Brooklyn, radical Muslim thoughts and lifestyle, and others of the peoples and cultures of the City. I loved reading about the old-time reporter going after the murder story.

Pete Hamill is an author you must read simply for your own literary education. Not to have read him will sadly leave you ignorant of an important generation which he's witnessed/ing and continues to report.

For your personal collection and library, go immediately and get a first edition of this novel. This is a book that will be known as important and will be receiving awards.




I used to read Pete Hamill in the newspaper so I know he knows his stuff. This sounds like a book that would really appeal to a New Yorker such as myself. Thanks for this great in-depth review. I will be sure to look for this book.

Cath Brookes

Hamill offers up characters that I enjoy knowing, New York being one of them. Even the unsavory people, the reader gets to know to a level of understanding.

Cath Brookes
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