Tabloid City: A Novel Hardcover – May 5 2011
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PRAISE FOR NORTH RIVER:
"Lovely, richly textured....Is there another living writer with as firm a grasp on the city's sidewalks, its buildings, its history?"―Scott Stephens, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Hamill's love story casts an engaging spell, and Manhattan-lovers will delight in the gritty particulars."―Tanner Stransky, Entertainment Weekly
"North River seduces us with the author's sweetly convinced nostalgia for his city....Hamill's a smart guy and a fluent writer, and few people have written quite so beautifully about New York as he has."―Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times
"Hamill has crafted a beautiful novel, rich in New York City detail and ambience, that showcases the power of human goodness and how love, in its many forms, can prevail in an unfair world."―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
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.
Top Customer Reviews
Hamill appears enamored with the way things once were but fails to recognize in these pages that change is inevitable. Yet, the more things change...well, you know the rest. I am sure the twenty-somethings of today in New York will harken back to the good old days of the 00's in the coming decades. I can only hope that as someone who spends a great deal of time in NYC that P.J. Clarke's, Veselka's, and The Oyster Bar all stick around so I will continue to enjoy unbelievable chicken pot pie, copious amounts of pierogi, and fried oysters in the greatest city I have ever experienced. In fact, I send Mr. Hamill an open invitation to join me at any of these places for a bite and an open liquor tab just so I can hear more about this great city.
Hamill's cast of characters in "Tabloid City" sort of reminded me of a WW2 foxhole movie. One Hispanic, one Italian, one Jew, one Irishman, a WASP, and one or two of other ethnics who make up today's New York City. Throw in a print newspaper going the way they're going all over the country, a nasty murder of a WASP and a black in Greenwich Village, a Bernie Madoff-like character (Irish) on the lam from prosecution by the Feds, a would-be terrorist (Black) trying to come to terms with his life, and you have a 24-hour period in today's New York City. And those are just a sampling of the characters and plot lines in "Tabloid City". I felt I was battling off "in-coming" from the barrage of characters and plot. That's not a good feeling for a reader to have, in my mind.
Does Hamill bring it together in the end. Yeah, sorta, but I think it would have been a better book with fewer characters and a more developed plot. Am I an idiot? Can I not deal with a lot of characters? Dunno - I understood and got through "War and Peace" pretty well. But "Tabloid City" is not "War and Peace" and Pete Hamill isn't Leo Tolstoy. (Who is, actually?)
If you're a Pete Hamill fan - and I have enjoyed some of his previous books like "Forever" - have at this book and enjoy it. If you've other books on your TBR shelf, you might want to bring down one of those instead.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Save for a train or plane trip & you will not be disappointed.
I wanted to like it, really I did. I'm searching for good Summer reads, this was not one of them unfortunately.
It is present day. New York is no longer "My Downtown." Yes, on surface this is a depressing epic, but such are the changed times in which we find ourselves. As Hamill demonstrates, blind faith in technology, a seemingly endless and crippling recession and, most of all, September 11, have changed our world irrevocably.
The old faiths, favorites, tribes, rituals and retreats are gone for good. It seems that in their place there is nothing but mayhem, fear and uncertainty.
Hamill's characters find it pointless to try to sugar-coat the painful realities of today, or wall-paper them over with wistful remembrances of "glory" days and past champions. For too many (and not just the poor and afflicted), life now in the big city boils down to a constant struggle for mere survival, sometimes hour-to-hour. One day here encapsulates odysseys of lifetimes.
And yet--not all is lost.
Even people desperate themselves can, and still do, achieve miracles, minor and major. These are not the breath-taking, lyrical miracles of "Snow In August," or "Forever." Progress--digging ourselves out of the impersonal messes we've made--is likely to be incremental. And so it is fitting that the prose style here is unlike that of his other classics. What Hamill does now is staccato yet still intimate; taut yet still enlightening.
I believe the remarkable accomplishment here, and why this book matters, is in Hamill's revealing that even in our own struggles, we can find true meaning out of chaos and fulfill human purpose by rendering acts, small or large, of kindness, sacrifice and love. While the loathsome villains are (and always will be) on hand, the memorable characters are those who perform selfless acts of charity for others--sometimes strangers.
What I come away remembering most are the givers, for they are the ones who will light the way out. The humble, anonymous Mexican woman whose small tender act enriches a disabled and bitter vet of the Iraq war. The socialite who mentors a young and poor Jamaican to achieve her full promise. The lonely, aged artist, who rescues his former muse and her family. And the conflicted policeman, sacrificing out of his own despair and loss, for the greater good.
Hamill reminds us that while the world has changed, these intended or random acts of generosity and love are timeless in nature. What's more, as the Hamill doppelganger Sam Briscoe comes to understand, it ultimately matters not through what medium these acts of grace are reported--or if they are reported at all.
* Lew Forrest of the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan, an aging and successful painter who has lost his sight. His closest companion is Camus, a black labrador;
* Cynthia Harding of Greenwich Village, a socialite particularly committed to the New York City libraries and literacy. Her longtime lover is Sam Briscoe of the New York World;
* Sandra Gordon, whose precociousness at a dinner party in Jamaica drew the attention, sympathy, and mentorship of Cynthia Harding. From children's books to a passport and education, Cynthia helped Sandra find her place;
* Sam Briscoe, the editor of New York World, the last afternoon newspaper in New York and a fixture in journalism circles;
* Bobby Fonseca, a young journalist, who lives and breathes his work;
* Ali Watson of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, a New York City homicide detective;
* Malik Shahid, a young New Yorker turned religious fanatic/fundamentalist;
* Josh Thompson, a veteran from the wars in the Middle East who has lost his home and his family and is on the streets of New York;
* Beverly Starr, an artist from Gowanus, Brooklyn;
* Consuelo Mendoza, an illegal immigrant from Mexico living in Sunset Park, Brooklyn; and
* Myles Compton, a hedgefund manager whose bad investments and shady dealings lead him to abscond in the night.
While each of the personalities are carefully constructed, I was particularly drawn to the women who are given central roles in the novel. Sandra Gordon is a secondary character but her strength, independence and vulnerability all come across so clearly. The interaction between the aging and nearly blind painter Lew Forrest and his long lost muse, Consuelo Mendoza is particularly touching. Even the socialite Cynthia Harding who only appears briefly is complex and fleshed out. Through a high profile murder and its aftermath, Tabloid City gives a fascinating and unsentimental glimpse of today's New York.
ISBN-10: 0316020753 - Hardcover
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (May 5, 2011), 288 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.