He told his stories in an abrupt, straightforward style that New York magazine once described as “equal parts Dickens and Yogi Berra.” Breslin won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, he was cited for “columns which consistently champion ordinary citizens.” In a 2013 interview, Breslin summed up his reporting technique this way: “Keep your mouth shut and your eyes open and keep moving.”
Breslin grew up in working-class Queens with his sister and a mother. He was 16 when he started as a copy boy at the Long Island Press and soon was reporting on everything from sports to crime to school board meetings. He first blossomed in the 1960s at the Herald Tribune, where he and Tom Wolfe were among the pioneers of what became known as “new journalism,” a colorful style rich with detail, dialog and narrative. “I didn’t care about anybody else,” Breslin said. “If I thought it was humorous, if it made me smile, I put it in. I wrote it in the paper and didn’t care what anyone thought.” Breslin stopped publishing in his final decade, but a good friend said he kept writing “every day of his adult life.” His death came suddenly. The doctor said Breslin was “very vibrant and sharp” Saturday night as he ate dinner with his wife, former New York City Councilwoman Ronnie Eldridge.