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Piecework: Writings on Men & Women, Fools & Heroes, Lost Cities,Vanished Friends..


In a new volume of journalistic essays, the eclectic author of A Drinking Life offers sharp commentary on diverse subjects, such as American immigration policy toward Mexico, Mike Tyson, television, crack, Northern Ireland and Octavio Paz.

This rich and varied collection brings together 25 years worth of great journalism by the bestselling author of A Drinking Life--hard-hitting, opinionated pieces on such topics as what television and crack have in common, why ...

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Piecework: Writings on Men and Women, Fools and Heroes, Lost Cities, Vanished Friends, Small Pleasures, Large Calamities, and How the Weather Was

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In a new volume of journalistic essays, the eclectic author of A Drinking Life offers sharp commentary on diverse subjects, such as American immigration policy toward Mexico, Mike Tyson, television, crack, Northern Ireland and Octavio Paz.

This rich and varied collection brings together 25 years worth of great journalism by the bestselling author of A Drinking Life--hard-hitting, opinionated pieces on such topics as what television and crack have in common, why winning isn't everything, and why American immigration policy toward Mexico is all wrong.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hamill (A Drinking Life) reminds us that ``if reporters stick around long enough they learn that the guilty are sometimes innocent and the innocent probably have an angle,'' and so in this collection of his previously published essays, he casts a suspicious if not compassionate eye on life. He first tackles the Big Apple, and few are more eloquent in talking about the City of New York. Although he recognizes that ``Nostalgia is a treacherous emotion,'' there is plenty of it here, as he gives the reader wonderful reminiscences of Greenwich Village in the '50s and '60s; shows how the lack of jobs has caused the welfare state to explode (he points out that there are 1.3 million New Yorkers on welfare today, compared to 150,000 in 1955); laments the passing of the trolley car and misses the New York that preferred stickball to crack. And although he covers the world's trouble spots from Vietnam to Beirut to Belfast, the sustenance of this collection are the biographical sketches of such diverse characters as boxer Mike Tyson, Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez, Sinatra, mobster John Gotti, General Colin Powell and Jackie Gleason. Hamill has a decided love for the rogue, and the reader may wind up liking John Gotti better than Colin Powell. Hamill finishes with thoughtful pieces that dissect his own mortality-recently, for example, he was stricken with tuberculosis. A collection that shows why Hamill is a New York literary treasure. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Hamill, author of the best-selling memoir A Drinking Life (LJ 1/94), has selected some of his most successful essays for this collection. He began his career as a journalist 35 years ago at the New York Post and went on to write novels, screenplays, and magazine articles. These essays are opinionated, hard-hitting, passionate, and sometimes disturbing. Written for magazines ranging from Esquire to Art & Antiques, Hamill's writings show readers the decay of New York and other cities, the violence and heartbreak of Lebanon and Nicaragua, and the unraveling of civil life in many parts of our society. But he also includes compassionate portraits of some famous people and several informative travel articles. Recommended for journalism and essay collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/95.]-Rebecca Wondriska, Trinity Coll. Lib., Hartford, Ct.
Thomas Gaughan
To use his own pretty phrase, Pete Hamill has been living in the "permanent present tense" of the journalist's trade since 1960. Since 1965, he's been a newspaper columnist and magazine feature writer, enjoying freedom from the "tyranny of impossible objectivity" imposed on reporters. Hamill has honored that freedom for 30 years, and this collection offers a large and incredibly diverse selection of his best work since 1970. It's a measure of Hamill's range and the worth of this book that it is impossible to capsulize its contents. The pieces are a journalistic gallimaufry: magazine essays, newspaper columns, elegies, and profiles of subjects as varied as Octavio Paz and Mike Tyson, political correctness, stickball, and Mexico and northern Ireland. Hamill is at his best, which is very, very good, on the subject he knows best: New York. "The Lost City" is a lilting lament for the city of his youth, one that still retained the capacity to be horrified. Most of his writing about the city is either melancholy or angry; melancholy about what has been lost or angry at the pervasive fear, violence, greed, and intolerance that have replaced it. "Piecework" is informative, entertaining, thought provoking, and elegantly written.
From Barnes & Noble
This rich and varied collection of choice essays and articles by the seasoned New York journalist covers such diverse subjects as winning, America's immigration policy, Vietnam, New York City then and now, Frank Sinatra, middle age, and more.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316341042
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 5/11/2004
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.37 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Pete Hamill
From his days as a crack reporter (who incredibly rose to the editor-in-chief post of both rival dailies The New York Post and The New York Daily News) to his novels like the sweeping Manhattan epic Forever, Pete Hamill keeps his typing fingers on the pulse of the city he calls home.


Throughout his colorful career as a writer, New York City has been a constant backdrop and inspiration for Pete Hamill -- from his success at several New York newspapers and magazines to his look back at A Drinking Life to his latest sweeping novel about a man gifted with immortality in the city he calls home: Forever.

Born in Brooklyn in 1935 as the first of seven children to Irish immigrant parents, Hamill attended Catholic schools throughout his childhood. More in tune with the city streets than the schoolroom, he dropped out at 16 to labor in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a sheet metal worker, and from there signed up with the U.S. Navy, where he was able to eventually complete his high school education. The G.I. Bill of Rights helped him gain admission to Mexico City College in 1956-1957, where he was a student of art and design.

While Hamill fell in love with Mexico (and would eventually come to consider it his second home), his interest in design brought him back to New York to study at Pratt Institute. However, in 1960, he made the fateful career move that would change his life: taking a job as a beat reporter for The New York Post. Hamill's pavement-pounding work made him a crafty chronicler of city life -- from the grimy streets of the crime beat to the chaotic uprisings of the 1960s -- and he graduated to columnist. Soon after, he made the slightly scandalous move to the Post's rival paper, The New York Daily News. Perhaps one of Hamill's most intriguing achievements in New York journalism is the fact that he served as editor-in-chief of both papers -- the city's two most notoriously competitive dailies.

Hamill's nonfiction books have resonated with readers craving more than a few column inches. His 1994 memoir, A Drinking Life, was, as Publishers Weekly noted, "not a jeremiad condemning drink... but a thoughtful, funny, street-smart reflection on its consequences." Turning his attention to other lives, Hamill has also written tributes to idols Frank Sinatra (1998's Why Sinatra Matters) and Mexican painter Diego Rivera (1999's Diego Rivera).

Hamill has also enjoyed critical and commercial success as a fiction writer. His 1997 novel, Snow in August, was an instant New York Times bestseller. On the gritty coming-of-age story, the Times observed, "Mr. Hamill has told versions of this story many times, in fiction and journalism. But in his new novel...Mr. Hamill adds magic. Hamill is not a subtle writer, but his gift for sensual description and his tabloid muscularity fit this page turner of a fable."

2002's Forever brings Hamill's street smarts and near-encyclopedic knowledge of New York City together with his gift for spinning a story. Perhaps his most ambitious work yet, the novel traces the history of Manhattan through the eyes of a man who has watched it unfold for the better part of two centuries -- thanks to an otherworldly wish he is granted. It's likely Hamill's secret wish as well.

Good To Know

Since the 1950s, Hamill has had a keen interest in Mexico and considers it his home away from home. As a reporter, he covered the events in Tlatelolco in 1968, the Olympic Games that followed, and a major earthquake in 1985. For six months in 1986, he served as editor of The Mexico City News.

He is married to Japanese journalist Fukiko Aoki and has two grown daughters -- one a poet, the other a photographer for the Arizona Republic in Phoenix.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York, and Cuernavaca, Mexico
    1. Date of Birth:
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Education:
      Mexico City College, 1956-1957; Pratt Institute
    2. Website:

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