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.
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.