Pete Hamill: Perfection

As a working photographer for my whole life, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with writers. And I think most writers would not only agree, but they would agree with much finer pros. When we teach photography, invariably one word comes up, and that’s “perfection”. In reality, nothing is perfect.

When you think you’ve seen everything, all of a sudden Pete Hamill, with all of his great editing skills and a history of journalism that transcends 6 decades, you would figure he would go out to pasture. Or, do old writers put the cover on their Remington typewriters? Well, he didn’t do either. Tabloid City is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. I read it once and I’m now re-reading it for a second time. He’s taken everything he’s learned in all those years and crammed it into a few pages. You can’t put it down! Pete, thank you so much. What a wonderful book. You’ve proved the old adage- you get better with age. It’s perfect!

Tabloid City: a New Crime Novel by Pete Hamill

“Hamill (North River) forays into Dominic Dunne society crime territory before veering uncomfortably into a far-fetched terrorist plot. Just as the last ever edition of the New York World is getting put to bed, veteran editor Sam Briscoe stops the presses for a sensational murder: socialite Cynthia Harding and her personal secretary are found stabbed to death in Harding’s Manhattan town house. The story unfolds in time-stamped, you-are-there bursts that follow a large cast, including several journalists; Cynthia’s adopted daughter; a disgraced Madoff-like financier; a media blogger; the murdered secretary’s husband, a police officer assigned to a counterterrorism task force, as well as their son, a convert to radical Islam; and best of all by the weary and worldly Briscoe himself.

Hamill is at his best in the Briscoe portions, rich in print anecdotes and mournful for a passing age, but as both the initial murders and the closing of the paper play into a larger plot and the young extremist becomes the driving force of the novel, the quality slides precipitously, and, as if sensing defeat, the book is brought to a too abrupt conclusion with most of the principals gathered for a group of scenes that strain credulity. Hamill nails the dying newsroom, but gets lost on the terrorism beat.” – Publishers Weekly

Most photographers will tell you they have a love-hate relationship with writers. Most writers will tell you they have a hate-hate relationship with photographers. Just joking! Pete Hamill is not only a great editor and writer, but he has the utmost respect for the photograph and for photographers. I had an opportunity to have a short visit with Pete at B.B King’s and there may have been one or two drinks, but I can’t recall. He is a brilliant writer, a great guy, and “Tabloid City”, his new book, is a great read.

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