Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Corner by David Simon and Ed Burns and The Wire by David Simon


They wrote The Wire? I love The Wire!
The Corner, and Homicide, A Year on the Killing Streets are two books of classic journalism by reporter (and now fiction maven) David Simon and former cop and teacher Ed Burns, who together wrote the cult series The Wire.
True life stories, eh?
The two lads spent a year on the streets of Baltimore with low-level drug dealers, and Simon spent another year with the homicide squad. The Corner is basically about a family, the McCulloughs, falling to pieces as the drug world reaches out and sucks them in.
Lucky it’s not here
Oh, it will be. They write about “the slow, seismic shift that is shutting down the assembly lines, devaluing physical labour and undercutting the union pay scale”. That’s happening here too, in the Dublin and Limerick inner cities, places that used to be homes to factories and docks and skilled work.
Who are these McCulloughs?
Serious working-class people, descendants of slaves, who work two and three jobs each to make money and keep the family decent. Later, addicts and dealers whose life is a ruin, whose friends are gunmen and knifemen.
And Homicide? Same as the TV series?
Homicide, Life on the Streets was based on these real cases - the woman accused of killing a series of husbands for insurance, the cop blinded in a shooting, the 11-year-old disembowelled on her way home from the library.
Not nice
And characters: the Fish Man, suspected child murderer; cops like jokey Jay Landsman and steadfast Tom Pellegrini. Shocking twists, inside gen on cop work.
Not a chicky giggly book?
Affirmative. Deeply sad, very male, an incantation to the dying working class and the end of the unions, the schools, the law, the newspapers.
But still...
If you like The Wire and you’re gripped by Generation Kill, you’ll love these two books.

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