RARA-AVIS: Sweet Forever/bball and shoutouts

From: Carrie Pruett ( pruettc@hotmail.com)
Date: 05 Dec 2001

I wasn't actually talking about the Len Bias references in Sweet Forever; his fate is fairly well known even outside the sports world. If one didn't know about it prior to the end of the book, you'd miss some of the irony, but it wouldn't be hard to look it up and find out when you got to the end. I just remembered some really exhaustive discussions of college hoops and play-by-play from actual games being incorporated into the book. As somebody who anticipates every weekend in March considerably more than Christmas, this was great for me, but I thought it might be too "inside" for others.

As far as reading the music references, I don't think there's any "right" way to do it - that is, define the unfamiliar music from the character or the character from the music. I recall that Pelecanos usually describes enough about at least some of the music to get an idea of what the other artists referenced would sound like. I particularly remember a passage about Curtis Mayfield in "King Suckerman" that was descriptive enough that I was able to pick out a Mayfield song that I heard sometime later without having any prior knowledge of his music. Anyway, this was a lot more effective to me than, say, Ian Rankin spraying obscure (for me) Stones references through the Hanging Garden that just left me scratching my head
(though I loved the book otherwise). I mean, it worked to an extent by showing Rebus's mentality, but seemed obviously aimed at other people who had heard every Stones album and would immediately get what he was going for.


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