Thursday, September 4, 2014

Read: "Drama City" by George Pelecanos

Read: Drama City by George Pelecanos, 2005, 9780316608213.

Another withdrawn novel as I'm working through the stack of things I own.  I started this novel and then figured, Hey, I may as well try out The Wire on TV.  Since we bought a Roku unit in preparation for dumping cable TV I've been watching The Wire through Amazon Prime.  I would often get characters confused between the two stories.

Lorenzo Brown was in prison for eight years. He's out and hooked up a job as a dog catcher with the Humane Society (HS).  "Dog Police" in neighborhood parlance.  Lorenzo us much more than dog catcher though, he investigates cruelty complaints, wears a uniform and badge, and has authority to capture animals.  He and cohorts have plenty of dogs to look after in D.C. with the usual animal abuse plus drug dealer status animals like Pits and Rotties.  (Pelecanos obviously does not keep track of Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine because there is not one drug dealer owned alligator in the novel.)

Rachel Lopez is Lorenzo's probation officer.  Lorenzo is one of the few parolees Rachel has hope for because Lorenzo has a good job, shows up to work, attends Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and stays away from any gangster friends that are still alive and working the street.  Rachel also drinks to excess and dresses up for one-night stand hook-ups in a few of D.C.'s boutique hotels.

Things happen.  Lorenzo and his HS partner investigate a dogfight and Lorenzo is confronted by a couple dealers.  The two dealers have been getting into it with Lorenzo's past gang leader/ drug employer.  Rachel is supervising one of those dealers.

Things escalate and Pelecanos explores some of his favorite themes:

1. Life in the slums can be bad but people are still people.  They love, they fall out of love, they go to work (legal and illegal), and sometimes they just cope.
2. The importance of family.  Family keeps people together for good and bad.  Those without blood relatives make their own family and those with no family spiral into oblivion.
3. '70s and '80s R&B.
4. Detailed D.C. geography as characters drive around and Pelecanos describes neighborhoods.
5. Culture clash of white and black, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, violent neighborhoods versus safe neighborhoods.
6. Learned behavior - using violence - and how to break away from it.
Fear of the ghetto: How dangerous is a neighborhood?  How safe is it?
7. Metaphors.  Man, The Wire has a ton of those things.
8. Social rules of behavior and status.

1. Gun errors.

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