I Want to Thank My Brain for Remembering Me: A Memoir

Jimmy Breslin, Author Little Brown and Company $28 (224p) ISBN 978-0-316-11031-0
Breslin's confrontation with his mortality began with double vision in his left eye. He had an MRI, which revealed an aneurysm in his brain. He was referred to Robert Spetzler in Arizona, who is considered the best aneurysm neurosurgeon in the world. Thus begins Breslin's odyssey from New York City to Phoenix, which takes readers on a wonderful whirlwind tour of his life.He starts with his childhood in working-class Queens, where his father ""left the arena early,"" abandoning the family. He became a journalist when he was 16 and unabashedly informs his readers: ""I invented the news column form and other papers immediately went out and hired imitators with Irish names."" He recalls JFK's assassination; while other reporters hung around the White House waiting for press releases, he interviewed the $3.01-an-hour gravedigger at the President's grave.Breslin insists that New York ""is the healthiest city in the world"" and shows us the sights and sounds, which here include serial killer Son of Sam; Casey Stengel of the 1962 Mets; Malcolm X's murder in 1965, which he witnessed; Norman Mailer's unsuccessful 1969 mayoral campaign; and subway shooter Bernhard Goetz playing out his fantasies with a gun. Breslin discusses the great loves of his life: his late first wife, Rosemary, his present wife, New York City councilwoman Ronnie Eldridge, and their combined nine children.What is most stunning, however, is his rock-hard Catholicism. ""There is no such thing as an ex-Catholic,"" Breslin admonishes as he continually invokes pre-Vatican II phrases such as ""state of Grace,"" ""sins of Omission"" and an ""examination of conscience."" We also see Breslin the Luddite railing against the computers ""that took the verve out of the whole newsroom and the charm out of the stories"" and Breslin the nostalgist looking back on friends like Fat Thomas, Marvin the Torch and Klein the Lawyer.Breslin's brain operation is a success, and with stream-of-consciousness remembrances, he takes us through the procedure. His memoir is as tough as the streets of New York, and as sensitive as a poet in search of the truth. Major ad/promo; BOMC selection; author tour. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 12/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/1996
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-316-11879-8
Hardcover - 374 pages - 978-0-7862-0971-2
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