A good New Yorker piece
April 2, 2002 3:50 PM   Subscribe

A good New Yorker piece on George Pelecanos, who is my favorite crime author not just for his skills, but because he sets his novels in D.C.
posted by GriffX (6 comments total)
Someone once said that you can tell a lot about somebody's attitude towards Washington, DC as a city if they refer to the city as either "D.C." or "Washington", meaning, I suppose that people who use the latter think of it as consisting only of the Hill, Georgetown, and Foggy Bottom. Assuming that this is true, then George Pelecanos is the only true fictional chronicler of D.C. that I know of.

Short article, but good to see him getting more national exposure. A longer article, from 1998, is here.
posted by GriffX at 3:51 PM on April 2, 2002

Thanks for the link GriffX. Pelecanos is excellent. King Suckerman is probably my fave of his. I like the authors noting the regional focus of the best crime writers. He forgot to mention the excellent(but apparently publisherless at the moment) Michael Raleigh of Chicago.
posted by jonmc at 4:26 PM on April 2, 2002

GriffX: Someone once said that you can tell a lot about somebody's attitude towards Washington, DC as a city if they refer to the city as either "D.C." or "Washington",

Your reason is good, but I'd say that anyone who has a good knowledge of geography would call it "D.C." or "Washington D.C." as opposed to "Washington" because of the confusion with the State of Washington.

Beavis and Butthead Do America contains an interesting scene regarding this distinction.
posted by wackybrit at 5:29 PM on April 2, 2002

I find Pelecanos's works somewhat uneven, but when he's on, he rocks. When he's off, he does extremely well-written Starsky and Hutch episodes. One thing that I really appreciate in his work is his ongoing examination of race relations in DC, although the way the black good guy and the white good guy always end up teaming up is what reminds me of a 70's cop show. I like the continuity of characters from book to book, except when it's stretched to the point of credulity (but you only get this when reading his books one after another in order).

All in all, I think his best writing is about the Greek immigrant subculture in DC. My favorite book by him is The Big Blowdown. Least favorite -- The Sweet Forever, with its awkward and intrusive 80's references that kept breaking the flow of the story for me. "Look! It's 1986! There's Len Bias! We know what happens to him!"

Any of the above not withstanding, his work is always worth reading because it's so unusual to find such a prose stylist (even when he gets tripped up by plot points -- it's always the final showdown, y'know).
posted by elgoose at 9:50 AM on April 3, 2002

I've been reading crime fiction (as I'm trying to get into that genre as a writer myself) and Pelecanos jumped to the top of my must read list, because of the DC-setting of his work.
posted by owillis at 11:15 AM on April 3, 2002

He was also recently profiled on CBS Sunday Morning.
posted by briank at 11:20 AM on April 3, 2002

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