Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Someone who doesn't like Pelecanos

From: Karen Anderson (
Date: 04 Jul 2004

Brian Thornton wrote:

> I don't like Pelecanos' writing for some of the reasons
> Maviano mentions (the way he sets up the conflict in his books, the
> 'acting
> tough' as opposed to 'being tough' part as well. It just rings false
> to
> me).

Ignoring Trevor Maviano (who seems to have been having fun jerking the interviewer around) this a great discussion of Pelecanos. I've reviewed two of his books when I was writing for January magazine, and am a fan, with some reservations. Brian hit it right on the head with the comment about Pelecanos' characters: "the 'acting tough' as opposed to 'being tough' part." That's what has made me uneasy about Pelecanos' earlier protagonists (Nick Stefanos, Dimitri Karras). They're very much of the post-modern era. My take is that he's trying to set them up to transcend their own jive at key points in the series-and I admire his character development. What's really sold me on Pelecanos, though, is his use of the soul-less DC setting. DC (where I grew up) is an utterly tragic city, corruption at both ends of the socioeconomic scale and then this very silent middle class, black and white, turning the cogs of the machinery. Pelecanos brings me back to DC--Georgetown, the shockingly Southern redneck towns just beyond the city, the baked-out projects--time and time again. For that, I can forgive some posturing from his anti-heroes.


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