A Drinking Life: A Memoir

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Wheeler Pub., 1994 - Alcoholics - 430 pages
Rugged prose and a rare attention to telling detail have long distinguished Pete Hamill's unique brand of journalism and his universally well received fiction. Twenty years after his last drink, he examines the years he spent as a full-time member of the drinking culture. The result is A Drinking Life, a stirring and exhilarating memoir float is his most personal writing to date. The eldest son of Irish immigrants, Hamill learned from his Brooklyn upbringing during the Depression and World War II that drinking was an essential part of being a man; he only had to accompany his father up the street to the warm, amber-colored world of Gallagher's bar to see that drinking was what men did. It played a crucial role in mourning the death of relatives or the loss of a job, in celebrations of all kinds, even in religion. In the navy and the world of newspapers, he learned that bonds of friendship, romance, and professional camaraderie were sealed with drink. It was later that he discovered that drink had the power to destroy those very bonds and corrode any writer's most valuable tools: clarity, consciousness, memory. It was almost too late when he left drinking behind forever. Neither sentimental nor self-righteous, this is a seasoned writer's vivid portrait of the first four decades of his life and the slow, steady way that alcohol became an essential part of that life. Along the way, he summons the mood of a time and a place gone forever, with the bittersweet fondness of a lifetime New Yorker. It is his best work yet.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ritaer - LibraryThing

A moving memoir of a life that came close to being destroyed by drinking, not the drinking of merely an anguished individual but of a class and a race, the working Irish of New York. Hard work and occasional heartbreak made bearable by the camaraderie of the bars and parties. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bookczuk - LibraryThing

Pete Hamill has been one of my favorite authors and writers for a long time. This book covers ground and was published entirely before he entered my awareness. The story of his boyhood in Brooklyn, in ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
3
Section 3
8
Copyright

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About the author (1994)

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y. to Irish immigrant parents on June 24, 1935, Pete Hamill attended Mexico City College, Pratt Institute, and The School of Visual Arts before starting a career in journalism. In 1960, Hamill accepted an entry-level job at the New York Post, becoming a columnist five years later. Hamill subsequently worked as a columnist for the New York Daily News and the Village Voice. Later working as a contributing editor at Esquire, Hamill has written articles for the New York Times magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, Vanity Fair, and Playboy magazine, among others. He is also an accomplished novelist, having written more than a dozen books, including his national best-selling memoir, A Drinking Life, and the novels Snow in August; Why Sinatra Matters; and Lost Cities, Vanished Friends. Pete Hamill died on August 5, 2020 at the age of 85.

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