Re: RARA-AVIS: God is in the details, not the footnotes....

From: Schooley (
Date: 12 Dec 2001

Mark Sullivan wrote:

> It's been a long, long time since I've read
> James Grady's Runner in the Streets, but I remember there being long
> passages whose only purpose was to proclaim authenticity, to prove Grady
> had gone on a lot of drivealongs with DC cops.

I just had a similar experience reading Gary Phillips' Violent Spring. This story was constantly interrupted to provide anywhere from one paragraph to pages of essential background information. The storytelling between these interruptions was quite good, but I hope my next Phillips will seamlessly integrate such information into the story.

> George seems pretty
> transparent to me, his references meant to reveal something about his
> characters, not himself. And I never get the feeling that the
> characters think of their music taste, for instance, as anything but
> normal.

I too was surprised by the earlier criticism of Pelecanos work on this account. I've read just the one Pelecanos novel and didn't feel displaced despite the fact I've experienced just one mythic, whirlwind tour through central D.C. I caught none of Pelecanos musical references, and can't remember them now, but nevertheless their titles and context did help me to place the characters, their approximate ages and interests. I hadn't heard the names of the Washington suburbs named in the novel before either, but I have now and it seems rather sad (though hardly unique) that they are named only for their geographical proximity to someplace else. So I've learned something about Washington by reading Pelecanos. That I feel somewhat disatisfied in this regard implies to me that I should read more of his stuff.

Much better to do that than get a set of Coles Notes appendixed to each book, or revert to reading stuff written for that large but elusive audience known as the "lowest common denominator".


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