About all I knew was one piece of newspaper lore: that when other reporters were covering John F. Kennedy’s funeral, Breslin was talking to the gravedigger.
It’s the stuff of legend, a shorthand way to express the news concept of breaking from the pack. Everyone else was dutifully noting the pomp, the collective grief and the official remarks, while one lone writer addressed the same story from the humblest of angles.
Until Breslin’s death, it was the only column by him I’d read, that and “A Death in Emergency Room One,” about the efforts to revive Kennedy.
They’re in the book “The World of Jimmy Breslin,” a 1967 collection of the best of his work for the New York Herald Tribune. I’d bought it at a used bookstore in St. Louis eight years ago and had only read those two famous pieces.
Now, with Breslin gone, the book came off the shelf.
Many of these ’60s columns are remarkable: subdued, understated, closely observed, seething with quiet anger.
He spent a few days in Harlem as tensions simmered one summer.
“Money makes the way of life, and low money shows everywhere you go in Harlem,” one paragraph reads. “In a supermarket on 135th Street, in the middle of the Saturday rush, the totals on the cash registers kept showing $7.30 and $10.58 and $5.97 while, at the same time, in a…
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