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Over 100 of Breslin's Daily News columns since 1976--chosen, arranged, and ""annotated"" by his former News editors, who, unfortunately, dispense far too much blathery gush along with a few sharp glimpses of Breslin-at-work. (""New York is a part of him, too, pounded into the marrow of his bones. . . Breslin knows full well that the real New York, underneath, is the world of his little, forgotten people. . . ."" Etc.) The columns themselves, divided into eight roughly thematic: groups, are terrific daily journalism--that doesn't always stand up terrifically well to time or hard-cover compilation. The first section is Breslin fighting for the little guys: attacking ""suburban riffraff"" who look down on straphangers, defending the people of Howard Beach against the Concorde, and--in one marvelously self-deprecating piece--using his famous-columnist clout to get a job for poor hardworking JosÉ (who turns out to be a thief). Then, after vignettes featuring teenage-criminals and small-time hoods, comes a lively chunk of political rhetoric: sarcastic digs at N.Y. Gov. ""Society Carey""; a 1982 piece heralding Cuomo (""If all Democrats are old, he is new""); utter loathing for Daniel Moynihan, admiration for Teddy Kennedy (""He lost his elections, but never his breeding""), scorn for ""tired"" Bella Abzug. There's a very brief sampling of Breslin's quasi-fictional Queens characters--Marvin the Torch, Fat Thomas, and Klein the Lawyer (a nice blend of greedy tackiness and gritty nobility). Next: issues outside New York--from Northern Ireland (Breslin's biases out-front) to Three Mile Island. And the final two sections present the more personal Breslin--writing hate-letters and love-letters to enemies and friends, musing on his marriage, offering a eulogy at his wife's funeral, and sharing the problems--religious differences, step-siblings, two mothers-in-law--of his recent remarriage. A fair, generous sampling of Breslin at the News, with the occasional nuggets of lean eloquence as well as the lapses into mere noise and sentiment.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1984
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin