Harvey Araton writes, with keen insight, of a time when power was ebbing fast from both newspapers and their unions. It’s an especially bittersweet tale he tells of the people who had grown up in newspapers and unions, as they struggle to adapt to this evolving new order. And, of course, what makes this even more evocative, is that we’re still trying to sort this all out. — Frank Deford, author of Everybody’s All-American, NPR commentator
"Father and son face their demons, each other, and a depressingly realistic publisher in a newspaper yarn that made me yell "Hold the Front Page" for Harvey Araton's rousing debut as a novelist." — Robert Lipsyte, author of An Accidental Sportswriter
In times of change, American novelists return to old themes. In Cold Type—as in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman—a son and his father struggle to hold onto what they think is right. It's mid-1990s; and "cold type" technology, a.k.a. computerized typesetting, wreaks havoc among workers in the newspaper industry. A fabulously wealthy Briton buys the New York City Trib and immediately refuses to negotiate with the truck drivers' union. In solidarity, all the other blue collar unions take to the streets. Jamie Kramer is a reporter for the Trib. His father is a hardcore shop steward (unusual for a Jew in Irish-dominated unions) from the old day of "hot type," but who has become a typographer in a world he doesn't understand. His father expects Jamie not to cross the picket line. It would be an act of supreme disrespect. But that's not so easy for Jamie. His marriage has fallen apart, he desperately needs his paycheck for child support, and he needs to make his own life outside the shadow of his father.
Harvey Araton is a celebrated sports reporter and columnist for the New York Times. He authored the New York Times best-seller Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball's Greatest Gift; plus When the Garden Was Eden: Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, and the Glory Days of the New York Knicks. Araton also finds time to serve as adjunct professor in sports writing at Montclair State University in New Jersey where he lives.
Against the backdrop of a fictional newspaper strike in 1994, Pulitzer Prize-nominated reporter Araton's (Driving Mr. Yogi) novel explores the decline of unions as the the business of news changed, and even the relationships between fathers and sons separated generationally and by class. When New York City's blue collar paper, the Tribune, is bought by a conservative Englishman, he institutes policies designed to force a drivers' strike, which in turn leads to strikes among other unionized workers at the paper. Jamie Kramer comes from a pro-union family and his father, Morris, shop steward for the paper's printers, expects that Jamie will not cross the picket line. But the decision for the journeyman reporter supporting an ex-wife and toddler isn't so easy, particularly when his former wife may move to Seattle with their son to help start an online bookstore. The author uses Jamie's and his father's estrangement to explore scarred family dynamics and the historically ugly blue collar and union mentality on race. Jamie and his little boy, on the other hand, are pure love; the toddler's baby-talk is sweet rather than cloying. The narrative itself is less interesting than its parts, though the denouemont is clever and hopeful.