A Writer Brought Back To Life

Pete Hamill is someone I’ve revered forever as a journalist, New York historian, novelist and screenwriter, concerned about him since he’s been silent for much too long.

Knowing he’s the last of his breed, Jack Newfield (1938-2004), Norman Mailer (1923-2007), and Jimmy Breslin (1928-2017) all gone, I assumed he was the next to go.

But I’m happy to say I was wrong, after reading how at 84, he’s moved back to Brooklyn, the borough of his youth, to pen one last book.

They don’t make the likes of Pete anymore, that blue collar writer who was present for every triumph and tragedy the country has endured.

He stood next to his friend, Bobby Kennedy, in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel moments after he was fatally shot.

He covered Vietnam, Nicaragua and Northern Ireland.

His journalism career spans 40 years at the New York Post, Daily News, the Village Voice and New York Newsday earning him the name, the Tabloid Poet.

His memoir, A Drinking Life (1994), takes you on a drunk’s tour regaling a tale only Pete could so poignantly tell after quitting cold turkey in 1972.

My favorite could be,Why Sinatra Matters (1998), opening at the legendary P.J. Clarke’s Saloon, while Sinatra holds court as he croons from the jukebox, in the company of some of the best newspaper men of our time.

His prose, clean and clear, makes you hear the ice tinkling in their glasses amid the swell of cigarette smoke you can practically smell.

I was lucky enough to meet him once downtown after reading, for the second time, his book of the same name…Downtown: My Manhattan (2004). 

It was like waking from a dream, after telling someone you’ve always admired how much they’ve meant to you.

He was kind and humble, patient with my girlish gush, feeling like a teenager meeting Elvis.

My heart is full writing this, very elated that my Elvis, my Lancelot of verse, has yet to leave the building.   220px-Pete_Hamill_by_David_Shankbone.jpg

This is a great piece called, Ain’t Done yet, I highly recommend.

 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/26/style/pete-hamill-brooklyn-book.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share      

SB       

About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
This entry was posted in alcohol, Books, creative writing, Culture, History, humanity, media, New York City, Politics, war, words, writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to A Writer Brought Back To Life

  1. aFrankAngle says:

    Nothing like writing a good promo about one impacting as a personal Elvis.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dale says:

    What a lovely tribute to a writer you admire.

    Like

    • It’s tanking since, clearly, few have any interest but, I wrote it anyway. Thanks for reading it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dale says:

        Why do you say that?
        And I don’t see why you wouldn’t write about someone you admire… which, by the way, in doing so, has introduced me to him. That article you included was quite interesting as well. I may just have to add yet another book recommended by you to my mile-high pile!
        Thanks for writing it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Reading is personal, so I try to not be pushy, but that article elated me so, because I really thought he was maybe, not with it anymore. What worried was, when Bobby Kennedy’s daughter’s book, Ripples of Hope, about her dad came out, they were all tributes from his friends and admirers, and Pete wasn’t among them. Thurston Clarke penned the intro and believe me, if Pete were able, it would have been him. They were so close. He’s the one who convinced him to run for president by writing him a letter that has now become iconic. When I read the Times piece it sounded as if, during that time, was when he was pretty unwell, BUT HE’S BACK…HE AIN’T DONE YET. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dale says:

        Funny how those things happen, really. Wonder why he was omitted? For all we know, he refused – health or other reason. Or maybe she resented him for convincing her dad to run. People are weird.
        But, as you said, you have a new book to look forward to coz HE AIN’T DONE YET!

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a good point. He was the only one left who knew him. Jimmy Breslin and Jack Newfield who wrote an amazing book on RFK, are both gone. But you’re right, we don’t know the particulars 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dale says:

        We don’t and like I said, people can be funny about things…
        All that to say that I love your enthusiasm for people who get you fired up.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There’s an expression I like…to aspire to inspire. Pete, Anne Lamott, Vonnegut, Austen, Hemingway here and there. Prose that lifts you up. I was thinking just now about Patti Smith’s M Train. You’d like that I think. A fairly short, spare memoir that’s written so beautifully. She lost her husband too left with two young kids. It’s a poignant, tender, inspirational tale.

        Like

      • Dale says:

        That’s a great expression. So many books, so little time…
        Thanks for the suggestion – will add 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • We can make end tables with our books. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dale says:

        We can! I am sitting in front of three overflowing bookcases…

        Liked by 1 person

      • My ex did that with his art books and it didn’t look half bad, of course he was nutty and kind of went with the rest of him. sigh

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dale says:

        Hah! Actually, it’s not that bad… I have one bookshelf that is only recipe books, one that is filled with classics and books I love and one that is partially filled with books, partially with things

        Liked by 1 person

      • When I see someone has books, it tells me a lot about them even before I peruse their spines, as it were. Books are like character references.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dale says:

        I do the same! My sister reads 10 times more than i.but there is not a book in sight in her house, other than the one she is reading… I don’t understand. And this same sister tells me I have too many. What? Bite your tongue, lady!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I try not to buy them as often, and belonging to this illustrious old time library I pay for, allows me to slim my shelves, but I still love the occasional purchase usually for something I’d read again. Like M Train. Bought that when it came out. That’s a great read. sigh

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dale says:

        Oh, I have stopped (mostly) buying books and the ones I do buy, I get in electronic version – so not the same as holding a book but for the sake of space and, let’s face it, money, it’s better for me. I just wish I didn’t live in such a French neighbourhood. The English section of the library is beyond puny.

        Like

      • Here you can go to any public library as long as you have a card. Maybe it’s different there. As long as you keep reading. That’s what matters.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dale says:

        Different towns, different cards… but that’s ok. I won’t ever stop reading.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That makes too of us. 👍

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I can feel your admiration for Pete Hamill. It is rare to have someone express such respect and I am very happy for Pete. (Maybe a bit jealous too) This is an excellent tribute, Susannah. By the way. I have spent many memorable hours in PJ Clarks and was warmed by the mention.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Issac Asimov was always the one I truly wanted to meet. He brought me into the Sci-fi I absolutely adore and it isn’t written anymore. There are good pieces, certainly, but nothing that kept me on the ropes like Asimov did and even his non-fiction was so great. 400+ books…I have about 50, but truly wanted to meet him before he died.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorryless says:

    The last book of his I read was Forever. I’ve not read A Drinking Life yet.

    Love the love you have for this man.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. skinnyuz2b says:

    Oh, the joy one feels when a favorite writer gifts us with another reading experience. I’m hoping M.C. Beaton will give us another Hamish McBeth. She was penning one or two each year and now it has been two years. And I still grieve at the loss of Sue Grafton and her fabulous talent.
    I bet Pete Hamill was not only flattered, but thoroughly impressed that a lovely model (who are never supposed to have brains) knew his writings inside and out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do remember, though tooling through his 70s at the time, he still had it goin’ on. He was so manly. I was sputtering alright, at being that close to him, and he basked like any neighborhood guy who may have been happily married, but whose flirt muscle could make a quick cameo down from the shelf, next to his books. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for sharing this, Susannah. I haven’t heard of him before. That’s quite a tribute to him, you wrote. Thanks for linking the NYT article too.

    Liked by 1 person

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