four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
54-Sept-Oct-2011
By: 
Pete Hamill
user_rating: 
0

A-TabloidCityA journalist for more than half a century--and the only person to hold the top position at both the New York Post and the Daily News--Pete Hamill pays homage to print journalism in his 10th novel, Tabloid City. Hamill is also the author of an acclaimed memoir, A Drinking Life (1994).

The Story: "I'm being summoned to the palace by a twenty-eight-year-old. The dauphin. A kid who spent two summers here as an intern, couldn't get a fact straight," grizzled veteran reporter and now editor Sam Briscoe thinks with disgust as the New York World prepares to go online, a move that will signal the end of Briscoe's long career. On what could be his last shift, Briscoe gets news of a double murder in the West Village. All in a day's work, except that one of the victims happens to be his longtime lover--and that episode is just the first in a series of events involving a cast of characters who define the grit, energy, and desperation of Briscoe's New York. "What always happens at the end is death," Briscoe muses, with a finality that rings too true.
Little, Brown. 288 pages. $26.99. ISBN: 9780316020756.

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"There's murder and mayhem in Pete Hamill's latest novel, Tabloid City, but the real victim in his book is the print journalism that Hamill knows and loves so well. This ticking time bomb of a novel is about the end of a form of daily storytelling in which America's big cities are like small towns--their recognizable casts of characters, dramas and moral struggles playing out on a slightly bigger, more complex stage." Susan Salter Reynolds

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"The real poignancy comes from nostalgia, and Hamill slathers it on like a counterman packing in the pastrami at Katz's. ... It's enough to make you weep." John Darnton

St. Petersburg Times 4 of 5 Stars
"As a thriller, Tabloid City works beautifully. But it's just as much a fond farewell to an era of journalism that's passing fast, with an eye toward its uncertain future." Colette Bancroft

San Francisco Chronicle 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Everyone who stays with the book--which I recommend they do--will certainly regard it as a gritty tone-poem in prose on New York City life--and death. ... I was a little sad, actually, when the plot kicked in toward the end of the book, because I wanted more of the swirl and less of the resolution." Alan Cheuse

Critical Summary

An elegy to print journalism and an accomplished thriller, Tabloid City showcases Pete Hamill's passion for a city--his city--and a bygone era. The star here isn't the plot, which consists of interwoven snapshot images involving more than a dozen characters, ranging from a policeman searching for his lost son to a disaffected, broken Iraq war veteran to an aging painter to a hedge fund manager on the run. Instead, reviewers celebrated the nostalgia evoked, in suitably journalistic prose, by the bittersweet memories of a lifelong New Yorker and the disappearance of an institution. Critics compared Hamill's latest to Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway, John Dos Passos's Manhattan Transfer, and Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City. The sweeping and intimate novel works both as novel and, especially, as a love letter to a lost art. Tabloid City ranks among Hamill's best.