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

From: William Denton (
Date: 06 Jul 2004

On 4 July 2004, Karen Anderson wrote:

: Brian hit it right on the head with the comment about Pelecanos'
: characters: "the 'acting tough' as opposed to 'being tough' part."

That's there because he's doing it intentionally. Terry Quinn, in those three books with Derek Strange, is acting tough. Strange *is* tough. I forgot the line exactly, but there's one bit where Strange sees someone across the street, takes his measure, and knows he can kick the guy's ass. He says something about how it feels good to know you can kick a man's ass. Quinn's unsure about that kind of thing, feels the need to act tough so he can prove it, and he pays for it.

Of course, you might think the people who are supposed to be tough are just acting tough, in which case I can see why Pelecanos would let you down. But I don't read them that way. There's also the matter of wisdom: the tough ones are wise, and the ones putting on a show haven't gained the wisdom yet.

: 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.

Last week I saw the hour-long documentary/dramatization that Mr. Lankford did about Michael Connelly. It really brought LA and Connelly's books--and every other LA writer's--to life for someone who's never been there. I'd love to see a similar thing done for Pelecanos's Washington. Mr. Lankford, might it happen?


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : : Caveat lector.

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