- Tabloid City written by Pete Hamill, read by Peter Ganim and Ellen Archer
- Unabridged audiobook (CD)
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (May 5, 2011)
- ISBN-13: 978-0316020756
Back-of-the-box blurb: In a stately West Village town house, a wealthy socialite and her secretary are murdered. In the 24 hours that follow, a flurry of activity surrounds their shocking deaths:
The head of one of the city’s last tabloids stops the presses. A cop investigates the killing. A reporter chases the story. A disgraced hedge fund manager flees the country. An Iraq War vet seeks revenge. And an angry young extremist plots a major catastrophe.
The City is many things: a proving ground, a decadent carnival, or a palimpsest of memories — a historic metropolis eclipsed by modern times. As much a thriller as it is a gripping portrait of the city of today, Tabloid City is a new fiction classic from the writer who has captured New York perfectly for decades.
She Is Too Fond of Books’ thoughts: First, a vocabulary note. I know many bloggers don’t use the publisher’s synopsis in their reviews, preferring to craft their own summaries or teasers. I *do* cut and paste them, editing for brevity, clarity, or to eliminate spoilers. I must point out a word I learned from today’s “back-of-the-box blurb” – do you know what a palimpsest is? According to my Mactionary, it’s a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain; something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form. Don’t you agree that a “palimpsest of memories” is a perfect description of New York City?!
I listened to Tabloid City on audiobook, and liked it well enough … until the end, which felt somewhat inconclusive to me; I wanted to know more, what happened next. Sometimes that’s what the author chooses to write, and I have to accept it.
The pacing was quick, never a dull moment; from the very opening, Hamill told his story in short bursts, shifting from scene to scene, introducing us to characters and their situations, then moving on to the next character. Slowly but surely these disparate stories came together, as the various characters crossed paths and their connections/coincidences were made clear.
If it weren’t for the references that set the novel clearly in the present day, I could easily imagine it in the era of Mad Men. Hamill brings us right into the tabloid newsroom, his main character, Sam Briscoe, speaks almost longingly of smoky newsrooms and the clackety-clack of typewriter keys.
It’s interesting to note that Sam Briscoe has appeared as a main character in three of Pete Hamill’s other novels - Dirty Laundry (1978), The Deadly Piece (1979) and The Guns of Heaven (1983). I’m very curious to track down these previous incarnations of Sam Briscoe, to learn if he was more comfortable in the world 30 years ago.
The audiobook production was quite pleasant; very good pacing and articulation. I was familiar with one of the narrators, Ellen Archer, from listening to the audiobook of Emma Donohue’s Room; I’ll look for more books read by her.
I’ve had a hard time wrapping my thoughts around this one in a pithy recommendation. Although I was left wanting more (what happens to these characters after the 24 hours we’ve spent with them), and I’m more than done with angry terrorist stories for a while, I’m taken by the style of Pete Hamill, and want to read some of his earlier work.