The Gift: A Novel

( 5 )


Originally published in 1973 and long unavailable, THE GIFT returns to print in a paperback edition that features a bound-in reading group guide. This short novel portends the great literary promise that Pete Hamill would eventually fulfill in such bestsellers as A Drinking Life, Snow in August, Forever, Downtown, and North River, to name just a few.
Read More Show Less
... See more details below
Hardcover (Reprint)
$13.45 price
(Save 20%)$16.95 List Price
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (44) from $1.99   
  • New (6) from $1.99   
  • Used (38) from $1.99   
Sending request ...


Originally published in 1973 and long unavailable, THE GIFT returns to print in a paperback edition that features a bound-in reading group guide. This short novel portends the great literary promise that Pete Hamill would eventually fulfill in such bestsellers as A Drinking Life, Snow in August, Forever, Downtown, and North River, to name just a few.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Hamill's 1973 Christmas story sure ain't Dickens. Set in 1952, it follows a young sailor on shore leave after serving in Korea. In a Brooklyn bar over a cup of holiday cheer-actually many of them-he finally comes to know his estranged father. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316011891
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 11/7/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 588,368
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 7.25 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The Gift

By Pete Hamill


Copyright © 1973 Deidre Enterprises
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-316-01189-4

Chapter One

I: HIM: THAT YOUNG MAN, STANDING THERE IN THE cold, the pea-jacket collar pulled high against the bald neck, the hat cocked saltily over the eye, the sea bag frosted with rain: that young man, seventeen years and six months old, out there at the entrance to the Jersey Turnpike, the world hammered flat and cold by the rain, a world empty of light, the tar of the road glistening and slick. I: him: five-foot-eleven, one hundred and sixty-seven pounds, chin tucked down like the fighters in the gym at home, wishing his shoulders weren't so blocky and square, wishing they sloped more, like Paddy Young's, staring out into the emptiness, watching the car lights grow from double tackholes in the dark to blurred sheets fretted with rain, the drivers stopped for the toll, paying it, and then moving on, snug containers of warmth, heading for New York, while he waited with the large man in the raincoat, under the entrance, in custody, and not caring, and thinking of steam. I: him: that young man who once was me, so strange now and distant, heading home, after a long time away.

It began somewhere else, in some other year, in a place thick with steam. I was sure of that. I slept on a couch in an aunt's house in Bay Ridge, eight years old, and it was the first time I had ever seena radiator. The stream sprayed itself upon the windows in the deep winter night, and when I awoke, I thought it was the snow come at last, the White Christmas that Bing Crosby had promised, or the Christmas of horse-drawn sleighs, trees with serrated bark, children with heavy wool mufflers bundled against the cold, and all the fine-drawn English faces I had seen in the dank-smelling bound volumes of the St. Nicholas magazine in the public library on Ninth Street. But mine was no greeting-card Christmas, and there was no snow; only steam, forced from the radiator, glazing the window of that strange house, like the breath of an old and very fat man. Standing on the Jersey Turnpike, I remembered that Christmas, my mother gone to the hospital, and no word from my father, no touch of his rough beard, his slick black hair, his hoarse voice.

"It should be along any minute now, sailor," the trooper said.

"You think I can get on it?" I said. "It might be crowded."

"I'll put you on it, young man."

The windows of the tollbooth were opaque with steam, and I remember wondering how many hours the man inside had actually worked, and whether he lived nearby, and how much he was paid. He was a fat, sloppy man, furiously smoking Camels, and looking at a Philadelphia Bulletin. I didn't like him. The cop was all right; he was doing his job, and part of his job was to stop people from hitchhiking on the Jersey Turnpike. But the fat guy in the booth was cloaked in steam, reading the paper, and chain-smoking his weeds, and I made him for a guy who cut his toenails and left the parings on the floor. I wondered if they had linoleum on the floors in Jersey and whether the guy had lived his whole life with steam heat.

"You comin' up from Bainbridge, son?" the trooper said.


"During the war-the big war, the last war-most of the kids around here went up to that Great Lakes. I had a buddy went there, matter of fact. Up near Chicago. Bainbridge, that was later. You like it?"

"It's all right," I said.

"Watch your ass in that Korea."

The man in the booth leaned back, and the headline in the paper said MARINES BATTLE REDS AT CHOSIN.

"Hey," the trooper said. "Here it comes now."

Away off, two saucer-shaped lights were approaching in the darkness. The Greyhound panted up to the tollbooth, wheezing and protesting, smelling of hot rubber and burnt gasoline. The windshield wipers slapped away rain as the trooper waved and the doors opened. The guy in the tollbooth nodded, and went back to his paper.

"I got one for you, Jerry," the trooper said.

"No problem," the driver said.

I shouldered the sea bag and moved to the door.

"Try not to hitchhike on the turnpike again, sailor. It's only a mess of trouble."


I started to get on, and the trooper touched my arm. "You got enough money, son?"

I looked at him: he had a kind face, and I liked him. "Enough."

I stepped on, but when I turned to tell him thanks, the trooper was gone.


Excerpted from The Gift by Pete Hamill Copyright ©1973 by Deidre Enterprises. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2007

    A reviewer

    I didn't like this book at all. Some parts of it were actually disgusting. I think Hamill just wanted to talk about himself, and make himself look good. He failed. I read and enjoyed 'Forever', but probably won't try another of Hamill's books.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    warm Yuletide family drama

    In 1952 seventeen and a half years old Pete is going home to spend Christmas with his parents, in realty mom as dad is never there for him, until he ships out to Korea as a sailor. Before leaving for the small war, Pete wishes he could help his beloved mom with money that she does not have, but still uses to decorate the Brooklyn apartment just for him. He also wants to come to grips with his two failed relationships before shipping to the war zone. Recently his girlfriend Kathleen sent him a Dear John letter while he was at boot camp and he never has had anything to do with his brusque father Billy. --- Pete quickly realizes that Kathleen has met someone else so he knows that relationship is over. Billy continues to act like his son is an inconvenient stranger until Pete decides to go into the lion¿s lair. On Christmas Eve, he shocks himself as much as his dad when he visits his father¿s only hangout, the neighborhood bar Rattigan's, for the first time. There he begins to see a different side to the always tired and snippy factory worker who sired him as they drink the night away together. --- This reprint of a 1970s warm Yuletide family drama remains current perhaps because our leaders still send our working class (and disadvantaged) youths to war. Though at times a bit schmaltzy the story line provides a powerful look at Brooklyn during the early 1950s, but does so through the interrelationships or lack of between Pete and his parents. Fans will hope that Pete gets THE GIFT he so much desires in life that his father calls him ¿son¿. --- Harriet Klausner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2005

    A Masterpiece

    I read 'The Gift' in Nov 1979 when I was getting ready to get out of the Army at Ft Sill, Oklahoma. The next week the TV movie version came out with Glenn Ford and Julie Harris. The book is a true masterpiece. It tells of coming-of-age, gain and loss. I am glad it will be coming out again. Pete proves himself as being a master of prose. Thanks, Pete. Neil Rice

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)