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May 12, 2008


Daniel Scallet

Pelecanos's books always bring me back to that scene where Stringer goes to the DC-based contractor to set up a hit in season 2 of the Wire. I swear, it lasted around 30 seconds and yet it managed to advance the plot while still mentioning go-go and using the word "bama" in the process.


Yeah, that was pure Pelecanos. If he'd mentioned Ben's Chili Bowl he would have hit the DC trifecta.


I liked King Suckerman but think Pelecanos really hit his stride with The Sweet Forever: as you note, there's too much insider stuff in his earlier (first four or six) novels, not only geographically but musically --what am I gonna do with the songs he name-drops twice a paragraph, get 'em all from iTunes?


Hard Revolution was a little better in this regard, too, since Pelecanos tells us why the characters prefer Stax to Motown--and it's hard to argue with such impeccable taste--but it still has a few clunkers where musical tastes substitute for characterization. (Of course the white JD likes Link Wray.)

The Wire did the same thing (still learning to write about it in the past tense--sniff). Some reviewer noted that you could always spot the good guys by their taste for classic soul, even if the show's soul/hip-hop divide should have been a more strictly generational split. I wonder what Clay Davis listened to...

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