Christmas on location
Just in time for the holidays, a treasure of a short novel by Pete Hamill is being reissued. The Gift was first published in 1973, and the story of a father and son struggling to find common ground is just as poignant in 2005. Pete is on leave from the Navy during the Korean War, and he returns to New York City for Christmas with its promise of steam and warmth, a girl's brown hair, the smell of pine, and snow. But when he returns, he finds parents who are getting older, and a childhood girlfriend who has moved on. Hamill's love for New York City is well-documented in his novels, and The Gift evokes a vibrant 1950s city, with The Four Acres playing on the bar jukebox and the movie houses bustling. Hamill offers a glimpse at the pivotal moment in one young man's life, one bleary night in a bar called Rattigan's, when he realizes the depth of his father's real but imperfect love for him. Hamill's spare writing and unflinching dialogue perfectly capture an era marked by loss and uncertainty. Amy Scribner is celebrating the holidays with her family in Olympia, Washington.