A Park Slope-born tabloid journalist-turned-acclaimed novelist has made it his mission to capture the nostalgic spirit of old Brooklyn — and if a new award is any indication he’s doing a pretty good job at it.
Pete Hamill — whose new collection of short stories is set entirely in the borough — will receive the Brooklyn Book Festival’s “BoBi” award recognizing outstanding Brooklyn-centric literature.
Hamill said “The Christmas Kid: And Other Brooklyn Stories” offers a glimpse at old-time Park Slope — prior to cellphones and “before the word ‘friend’ became a verb.”
The book pays homage to the then-blue-collar-and-immigrant-filled neighborhood, which shaped his upbringing, the scribe said.
“ ‘Work’ was the most important word in their vocabulary — and those values were part of my life,” Hamill said.
One of his new stories tells the tale of a young boy who changes the lives of his neighbors; another follows a man seeking to avenge his brother’s death. Many are set in classic neighborhood haunts such as Farrell’s Bar and Grill and the shuttered Rattigan’s, better known to current Park Slopers as the hip restaurant Talde.
Hamill — a former New York Post editor-in-chief whose recent books include “Tabloid City” and “Forever” — credited the Park Slope library on Sixth Avenue and Ninth Street for inspiring him to read and write.
The newsman made the transition to fiction after discovering journalism failed to answer some of life’s big-picture questions.
“Certain kinds of stories demand imagination,” he said.
On Sept. 22, Brooklyn Book Festival organizers will present Hamill with the award, which is chosen by a panel of dozens of authors and publishers.
The panel picks winners “based on a writer’s total body of work” and how it “speaks to the spirit of Brooklyn,” according to festival spokesman Mark Zustovich.
Previous winners include Paul Auster, Walter Mosley, and Edwidge Danticat.Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cn