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A Drinking Life - Pete Hamill

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by CHETtheJET, Mar 18, 2007.

  1. CHETtheJET

    CHETtheJET Member

    I have this book in one of my book shelves. I haven't looked at it in a few years. Picked it up and just started reading ramdom spots and could not put it down whilst casually watching the NCAA's. What a great pouring out it is. It bleeds life. His awakening moment done so well, very simple - there are hints of it coming - and then bang, he does it. Just a great auto-bio. I have never met Hamill, reduced these days to hoping he does an Imus appearance. Do any of you have first degree Hamill experiences?
  2. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    i was a pup at the ny daily news when their two columnists were pete hamill and jimmy breslin. talk about being in awe! hamill was the cleanest, fastest columnist i've ever seen in action. i remember one night when reagan was giving a state-of-the-union. hamill wasn't scheduled to write. but he was watching at a local bar and was captivated by a woman who kept talking to the tv behind the bar as reagan spoke.

    so when it was over, he came marching into the city room, told the night city editor he had a column to write, and proceded to pound out six-book page after six-book page on his typewriter in about 30 minutes to make the first edition. i was the copy boy racing to pete as he cried, "copy!" after completing each page.

    30 minutes! clean as a whistle. with a few scotches in him, no doubt. man, those were the days. how i loved the newspaper biz then.
  3. STLIrish

    STLIrish Active Member

    Pete Hamill is beauty. I've never met the man, but he has been perhaps my biggest inspiration since I started in this business. One of the first books of journalism I bought was his anthology, Piecework, and it's been a part of everything I've written since.
    Now I have several of his books and, when I feel sick of this miserable business, I pick one up and read. And his spark, his soul, reminds me why what we do matters. God damn. He is a fucking great newspaperman.
  4. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    I met the man once, very briefly.. but from reading him regularly in the the News, I believe Shockey said all you really need to know.

    He and Breslin are -- in my mind and my lifetime -- the quintessential newspapermen.
  5. gingerbread

    gingerbread Well-Known Member

    Pete would be a great person to convene a "town meeting" of sorts and lead a session on what newspapers (especially in NY, his love) need to do to survive and thrive. I'd love to hear his thoughts. He's still very passionate about the industry and must have some interesting and feasible suggestions.
  6. I always thought this Hamill quote said it all:

    "Newspapers will break your heart."
  7. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I loved "A Drinking Life." Unfortunately, probably for some wrong reasons. :)
  8. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    He wrote "News Is A Verb" nine years ago, and while it was roundly praised by journalists, it had zero impact on the businesspeople who run newspaper companies:


    I like Hamill's stuff, didn't like "A Drinking Life." A lot of the biographical stuff, I already knew. I also believe his do-it-yourself approach to solving his drinking problem probably won't work for many people, most of whom need some kind of help but who might be less inclined to seek it after Hamill's macho, chest-beating account of how he cured himself. He is one hugely talented man and could have chosen another topic instead of writing a book that may do more harm than good to his fellow excessive drinkers.
  9. Herbert Anchovy

    Herbert Anchovy Active Member

    None of the other imitation alcoholism memoirs done in the last 12 years is even in the same zip code with "A Drinking Life."
  10. henryhenry

    henryhenry Member

    this sounds like something from a 1940s hollywood film with spencer tracy.
    it does hamill a disservice to turn him into a stereotype.
  11. JohnnyChan

    JohnnyChan Member

    Lighten up, Henry.

    BTW: The better Hamill anthology is "Irrational Ravings," which you can sometimes find in used book shops, and occasionally pops up as available on Amazon. This is the angry, ultra-liberal Hamill from the old New York Post and Village Voice days, 1965-75, and when you're done reading some of these you want to throw your computer out the window and shrug and say, "Why bother?" That's how good they are.

    Best of all the title comes froma description of Hamill's columns delivered by none other than Spiro Agnew.
  12. shockey

    shockey Active Member


    take a valium, son. :eek:
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