Sunday, March 19, 2017

Jimmy Breslin, RIP

Sad news. Jimmy Breslin, Columnist for Gritty New York, Dies at 88:
“Essentially he was a storyteller,” Richard and Phyllis Kluger wrote in “The Paper,” their 1986 book on the New York Herald Tribune, where Breslin began writing columns in 1963. “His technique was generally to approach a story from the standpoint of the least exalted person connected with it or from the most unexpected angle, the one no other reporter had thought of or knew how to do or had been granted the license to attempt.”

He was first of all columnist, but also wrote novels, and, later, long-form journalism and an autobiography, I'd Like to Thank My Brain For Remembering Me. His rolling-on-the-floor-funny first novel, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, was a very needed corrective to the romanticization of organized crime in The Godfather, et alia.

His column about JFK's grave digger has been cited in many of the obits I've seen today, but I always liked the column he did about Churchill's death. Breslin went to London to cover the state funeral, but he found his material in - naturally - a pub, one in the East End called The Crooked Billet.
“Where?” she snapped. “Under the archway. Right down the street. It was a shelter, only it collapsed and I stood with my three and watched them pull my mother out dead and I was standin’ there with my ’usband away and my mother dead and then Churchill came and he told us all. ’E said for every one they dropped ’e’d drop three on them and we knew ’e meant it and ’e was goin’ to do what ’e said. And ’e done it. I’ll never forget that Sunday morning.”

Her hand came out in a fist and she shook it and her face flushed and she told you again, “’E said ’e’d give them three for every one they dropped and ’e done what ’e said, just like I knew ’e would.”

For the generation or two who haven't grown up with Breslin's columns, check out one of his books. You'll like it.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

TSB: I'm with the rebels who oppose Trumps repeal and replace plan. We have a mishmash of huge bureaucracies running healthcare: VA, Military, Private Insurance, Employer based insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Public Employees,
Union Employees. It's an Australian Scrum and we need to blow the whole thing up and start over. Looks like it is blowing itself up right now.
gwb

James said...

Skep,
Winston and Jimmy were also alike in how they used language.

TSB said...

James: Both writers, and both liked cigars and whiskey. Yes, I see the similarities. Good catch.

TSB said...

On reflection, they did more than merely like cigars and whiskey. They made them part of their lifestyles. Two similar personalities.

James said...

Churchill quote I bet Breslin loved:
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened."

Anonymous said...

TSB: The "real question" is: Can Gonzaga beat the ferocious "Huggy Bear Defense" of West Virginia on Thursday night? I have a knot in my stomach and front row seats! gwb It would be Mark Few's 501st win. Two great coaches!

Anonymous said...

TSB: Senator Paul silent = It's going to pass.
gwb (Plus Zags beat W.Virginia in an epic battle
of two great defensive teams.) gwb