Ernest Hemingway called him ""a terrible little pro, a rough-house artist, maybe the only newspaperman in the world who could last three rounds with the Zeitgeist."" This is kinder than most. Author Klurfeld, a Winchell ghostwriter for 27 years, was canned without severance pay in the Great Mouth's twilight after the New York Daily Mirror folded. Winchell, he relates, began in his teens as a song-and-dance vaudevillian with a maniacal eagerness for success that never left him--or granted him security, even after his gossip column was syndicated by a thousand newspapers. He practiced ""my superior look,"" which sprang from a cold, hard, piercing egomania of such consuming passion that (says Klurfeld) he turned gray at 30. His Broadway man-in-a-hurry style with its rat-a-tat-tat phrasing could abruptly turn sweet paeans to the Big City's sights and sounds. When politics at last gripped him, his anti-Nazi columns and postwar anti-Communist radio attacks gave him the powers of a pope and a president. And he singlehandedly set in motion a crusade that collected over $35 million for cancer research. Klurfeld's portrait is undeniably lively, in fact brilliant, fair, and bitterly amused--after 27 years as the earth's most garrulous ghost.