Friday, February 27, 2009
Maybe it doesn't make sense that our first actual blog about books centers around a television series, but if you have watched HBO's The Wire, you will understand. The entire Chop Suey staff (all 3 of us!) are complete fans of the series, and we seriously encourage you to dedicate the better part of 2 months to watching the 5 seasons. Despite the fact that it is a television show, The Wire is a literary masterpiece, an assertion underscored by the fact that it has compelled us to search out and read the novels and books behind this show.
The creators of The Wire, David Simon and Ed Burns, already collaborated on The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood, a journalistic/editorial examination of life on a specific drug infested corner in inner Baltimore. Of course, this book was also adapted into an HBO mini-series, but the book itself should not be ignored in deference to the television show. Breaking the year into the four seasons, Simon and Burns deliver the brutally honest and heartbreaking lives of a 15-year-old drug dealer, his drug addicted parents, the artist/junky who runs a shooting gallery, the community activist who refuses to give up on her neighborhood, and the many extras who populate the microcosm of the corner. An amazing example of "the Dickensian aspect" in modern American cities.
Before he collaborated with Burns, David Simon wrote the Edgar Award winning Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, an account of the inner-workings of the Baltimore Homicide Unit in 1988. The writing in this book is so well crafted, you at times forget that you are reading a piece of non-fiction. Simon expertly weaves murder investigations, the inner politics of the homicide unit, the personal interactions of the detectives with each other and the community, and the personal lives of detectives, victims, and survivors. We recommend this book without hesitation.
Author Richard Price wrote the introduction to the paperback release of Homicide, many of the teleplays of The Wire, and a number of amazing novels. I just finished reading Clockers, and was blown away. Clockers is the kind of book that makes you hurry home from work so that you can start reading it again. I'm not usually drawn to crime fiction, and had already seen the movie based on the book, which was fine but not mind blowing. But a friend and fellow fan of The Wire lent me a copy, and I can't thank him enough. The book is, to say the least, amazing. Price's latest novel, Lush Life, comes out in paperback next week, and I'm already recommending it based on Price's earlier work and the attention this newest book has already received.
Of course, these books are all available at Chop Suey. C0me in, read the first page of any of these books, and you'll be hooked.