cover image DOWNTOWN: My Manhattan

DOWNTOWN: My Manhattan

Pete Hamill, , read by the author. . Time Warner AudioBooks, $31.98 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-58621-729-7

Hamill has spent most of his life in New York City, and he knows its history and its pulse intimately. In this paean to his hometown, he moves from southernmost Manhattan to its center, and from the city's origins to its current state. Each CD focuses on one area, beginning with Battery Park and working through Trinity Church, the Bowery and the Villages before jumping to the city's heart: Times Square. The only sound effects (brief jazzy riffs) can be heard at the beginning and end of each disc, and the stark quiet of Hamill's narration seems odd for a book about such a noisy city. However, his gruff, seen-it-all voice, filled alternately with wonder at the beauty of a building, disdain for modern trends and indignation at how some worthy historical character has been forgotten, is that of a wise older relative revealing the true past of a place he loves. He speaks often of the "human alloy" of new and old immigrants that comprises Manhattan, and intersperses his own experiences growing up in Brooklyn and coming of age in the Lower East Side. Hamill's narration is somewhat monotonous, but his way of traveling seamlessly through neighborhoods and years, relating fascinating anecdotes and little-known facts, keeps the tour lively. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Forecasts, Nov. 15, 2004). (Dec.)