Re: RARA-AVIS: Pelecanos: Nick's Trip (Review)

From: Timothy S. Oliver (
Date: 02 Feb 2000

First, I am glad I'm not a critic. Don't have to look to deeply. But this, and the preceding item on KS brought some things to mind.

First, Pelecanos's writing is very personal. I like that. Especially because I am a contemporary of Pelecanos. I identify with the times he tries, successfully in my opinion, to evoke.

This leads to another current string about brand names. I think Pelecanos' use of brand names is effective. For example, when he talks about a "Super Bee" I know just what he means. It's much clearer than saying "the most powerful stock production car of the 70s." Also, certain types of people drive Chrysler Products. I can't describe the type, but it has meaning to me. Likewise Bud Lite. Beer and alcoholic beverage preference is descriptive of personalities. There isn't a better descriptor than the brand name.

Finally, on another current string. Nick Stefanos is the kind of private eye I imagine may really exist. He doesn't make a good living at it. Hence his job at "The Spot." Stefanos just watches and talks to people and generally digs around until something happens. Without and first-hand knowledge of the trade, this seems perfectly reasonable.

As you can tell, I'm a big Pelecanos fan. Few authors, to me, create such believable characters. Maybe I'm a sentimental sap, but I find myself really rooting for Nick, Dmitri and the others.

One thing makes me wonder. As intensely personal as these books seem, I would think them difficult to write. But Pelecanos seems to be very prolific lately. I don't understand it, but I'm very glad of it.

Tim Oliver

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