The Wire discussion


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message 1: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:56PM) (new)

brian   well, this group was inevitable. there's surely been sufficient references on goodreads to devote a group solely to The Wire and its writers...

i love crime fiction but, except for michael connolly and james ellroy, all i've read are the classics (chandler, cain, hammet, etc)... so, i'm looking forward to learning about, and reading the novels of, the show's writers: david simon, dennis lehane, richard price, george pelecanos, etc... and, as always, i'm ready to engage in some serious Wire debates. (one word of warning: anyone has a bad word to say about Omar better watch it.)

anything and everything Wire related is up for discussion here... and i assume things will really heat up after december 4th (when the fourth season is released on DVD) and in early '08, when the fifth season airs.

message 2: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:56PM) (new)

Jason | 18 comments I'll start off by recommending David Simon's _Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets_. I can't recall why I picked this up when initially published, but I recall--as a fan of crime fiction--thinking that this book was about the best narrative of police work I'd ever come across, an opinion I still affirm today.

What made the thing so successful was the weave of certain central "plotlines" and small essays/riffs on methods, motivations, statistics, bureaucracy, and Baltimore. Among the cases taken up, one we follow over the course of the whole book 'closes' with a vigorous interrogation of a suspect the detectives feel certain is guilty but whom they cannot crack. (The case remains open at book's end.) When the series "Homicide" began airing, I tuned in cautiously--fearing diffusion of the energy, observation, ambiguity which fuels the book--and was astonished at how (at least in that first season) they were essentially adapting faithfully so many of the cases... including and up through that central unsolved murder; the season ended (as I recall) with the great Pemberton (Andre Braugher) in an episode-long interrogation that comes to naught.

Simon had me hooked there; I read his next book when it hit shelves, and when I heard about "The Wire" I probably salivated. Simon's writing is outstanding.

A small note: just now, trying to remind myself of the book's subtitle, I checked Amazon and saw a quote from the book naming Detective Jay Landsman. Landsman is the "Fat Man" in the murder squad; zipping around from site to wiki to site, I see that they gave this character Landsman's name and consistently give him lines straight out of the real Landsman's mouth. ('Though I also read that the skinny Landsman is morphed into the rotund "Landsman" -- another in-joke.) And the real Jay Landsman is also on the show, playing Detective Mello.

You get the feeling, in David Simon's Baltimore, that you're in a Yoknatawpha straddling real and fictional versions of the same city.

Thanks, Brian, for starting this up...

message 3: by Paige (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:56PM) (new)

Paige | 3 comments Oh, oh, oh! I'm in. Best show in the history of television. Can't WAIT for the DVD release. It's really stupid, but I've refused to subscribe to HBO, so we haven't seen season 4 yet. How's that for a test of principles?

Brian, what are you going to read first?

message 4: by Edan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:56PM) (new)

Edan | 39 comments I can't believe y'all haven't seen Season 4 yet! You need to get HBO, if only for The Wire. Marshall, the season might be On Demand. Not sure.

Brian, who in the hell would badmouth Omar? He's the most popular character! (Although I have a soft spot in my heart for Bubbs, and Cutty is a fine motherfucker.)

message 5: by Edan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:56PM) (new)

Edan | 39 comments We have to get Patrick in this discussion. Mike, he read Homicide this year, and just started to read Lush Life.

I don't think I've ever read ANY crime fiction, aside from The Black Dahlia. I leave that to television and movies. What should I start with?

message 6: by Patrick (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:56PM) (new)

Patrick Brown | 10 comments With regards to Homicide, there are actually a lot of characters from The Wire who appear in the book, as real people, including Dennis Wise (the aforementioned Cutty), who was a contract killer in Baltimore in the late 70s and early 80s. Also in the book is Rick "The Bunk" Requer, who is, of course, the basis for Bunk Moreland.

I was thinking the other day of what it must be like to be the real Jay Landsman. To know that not only Landsman from The Wire but also Detective Munch from Homicide and Law & Order SVU is also based on you must be a strange feeling. What other non-celebrity has been the basis for multiple television characters?

message 7: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:57PM) (new)

brian   i think i've told a few you this already but...

about six months ago i went out to see a friend in a burlesque show -- i was at the bar ordering another scotch and who's standing next to me? Stringer Bell. yup. ordinarily, i'm not gonna say a word, but it was a scotch night and... it was motherfucking Stringer Bell! so, yeah, not only did i talk to him, but hugged the guy and gave him a kiss on the cheek. now, i don't think the real stringer bell would be down with that, but idris elba laughed his ass off and we shared a few words. i'm a huge dork. yup.

well, to answer paige's question, i think i'm going to read a george pelecanos book this week. marshall was kind enough to write out a great recommended reading list, but i can't seem to remember which thread it's under.... marshall? so, i think i'm just going to pick up his latest: The Night Gardner. anyone else interested?

also, anyone wanna do a monthly Wire reading club? as they're all crime books and pretty quick reads, i think it'll be easy enough to fit into our schedules...

message 8: by Edan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:57PM) (new)

Edan | 39 comments Brian, I'm in to start reading crime fiction. But perhaps every other month--I've got too much reading to keep up. Especially with you!

So what are we reading first now, and when do we begin discussions?

message 9: by Paige (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:58PM) (new)

Paige | 3 comments I'm definitely in for a monthly read.

Brian, I'd kiss Stringer Bell any day of the week. Or Omar. And definitely McNulty. So good for you!

Did everyone read the New Yorker article about the Wire? It came out a few weeks ago...

message 10: by Scoobs (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:58PM) (new)

Scoobs | 3 comments Yo String! We need a re-up!

It seems that everyone is at least through season 3 and waiting for season 4 to come out(Dec. 4th) I just finished 3 about a week ago. So if you haven't seen all of season 3 don't continue on.

So, who else was bummed out when String was taken out? All through the series I never really gave him much thought. I liked his character and what he was trying to do with his life. He had the street smarts, but also knew that he could go legit with a little book smarts too. For some reason I never really got invested in the guy. Just like how he got away in Season 1, he slips by you. Then he was in charge and he had shit under control.
Once I knew what was coming for him when Omar and Brother M'Zone(sp?)got together, I started to get scared for the guy. I didnt want him to go. Then when it all went down, I almost couldn't keep watching.

I miss the guy.

Maybe he will come in to BookSoup and seeing him in person will make me feel he is still alive.

Brian, when you saw him, had you already seen his killing? Maybe it wasn't the scotch, but the sadness of the passing of Stringer Bell which earned him your kiss.??????

message 11: by Scoobs (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:58PM) (new)

Scoobs | 3 comments I got about half way through Homicide, but Leo Tolstoy is really kicking my ass right now, so I need to get through that first. I do want to read some Pelecanos, but probably should pass on it for now.

message 12: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:58PM) (new)

Jason | 18 comments I'm in for a reading group.

I've read some Pelecanos--liked Night Gardener. I admire him more than really dig him.... but I'm willing to be persuaded.

I'm easy with whatever, but I have been convinced that I ought to read Laura Lippman, who had gotten good press before she married Simon--but I'd be up for picking any one of her books. Elmore Leonard pretty much makes me sing most every book, with few exceptions--always up for a re-read, and I suggest him wholeheartedly to those looking to crack the genre. I recall liking James Crumley, 'though I kind of moved past him. Ellroy is maybe too long for a group, but White Jazz blew me away. I'd also like to reread Hammett--it's been years.

Is this an all-American gig? I am also always curious about foreign crime writing -- I've enjoyed Henning Mankell but don't know my way around the waves from the bleak midwinter Euro north. Denise Mina and Ian Rankin rock the Scottish scene. And I've recently been looking to break into some South African crime writers--Deon Meyer and Robert Kunzmann...?

And maybe this is for another thread, but I'm curious about those "literary" writers who go slumming. I haven't read John Banville's Dublin noirs (published under the name Benjamin Black) but I've heard they're grand; Chabon's _Yiddish Policeman's Union_ was great pastiche; I might look to Lethem as a kissing cousin, maybe counter to Marshall's judgment -- but as much for _Gun, With Occasional Music_ as for _Motherless_ (and the former's as much a Dickian sci-fi as a Chandleresque riff).

message 13: by Edan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:58PM) (new)

Edan | 39 comments I think we should first stick with writers who have written for The Wire, and then we can move outward. I am up for Laura Lippman, though, because she is Simon's sweetheart, and because there are no other women on our book list.

So, let's suggest books and then we can vote. Everyone who has an opinion suggest one book.

message 14: by Patrick (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:58PM) (new)

Patrick Brown | 10 comments I'm half-way through Lush Life, by Richard Price, and I'm loving it. Definitely recommended for the folks in this group. Also, I'd like to read Clockers. It's been a long time since I saw the movie, but I remember liking it back then.

message 15: by Cory (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:59PM) (new)

Cory | 12 comments Andre Royo comes into the bookstore where I work from time to time, and I always have to restrain myself from shouting: "'Sup Bubbs!"

I'm also waiting for Season 4 to come out - though I think the Netflix wait may be a long one.

My favorite scene so far (except for some of the Western-inspired shots of a whistling Omar, which are just badass) is the one in which McNulty and Bunk are going over the scene of a shooting. The vic was shot in her kitchen, and as the two detectives try to figure out how it all played out, they speak solely in variations and conjugations of the word "fuck." It's brilliant.

message 16: by Tina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:59PM) (new)

Tina Well, I think it is very apropos to have a discussion group about The Wire on a site about books because I have long held that The Wire is a very well written, character driven novel that somehow miraculously appeared on my TV.

Although season one holds a sentimental place in my heart as my favorite season, Season 4 is words. I envy those who haven't seen it yet, you are in for a treat. HBO is showing all the seasons On Demand as a run-up to the final *SOB* season. I was seriously thinking of giving up cable this year to save money and my husband and I decided we had to wait until the season of The Wire had finished before we could do so.

message 17: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:59PM) (new)

Jason | 18 comments Edan makes a good point/case -- so, while up for anyone, and wanting to read Lippman eventually, I'd like to tackle Pelecanos with some of his fans. Whatever book (Donald? Marshall?) suggested as him at the top of his game.

message 18: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:59PM) (new)

brian   about that re-up...

as the moderator in our own little hamsterdam... (would i be bunnie or barksdale?), i can tally all the votes and announce the book of the month... how about this:

as edan suggested, everybody post one book written by anyone who has written for the wire (including Lippman) and at the end of the month i'll post all the books listed and we'll vote on 'em.

as december (with the DVD release of Season Four and the holidays) is gonna be a clusterfuck, we'll vote in december for the book, but we'll read it in january. cool?

i guess my vote is for simon's HOMICIDE... a logical place to start. but if too many of us have already read it, i'd pick any Lehane novel. guy wrote Mystic River and is a Wire writer? shit. how have i not yet read him?

so... whoever throws out the first vote start a new thread for the book club and we'll all post our votes over there...

also: last night i read the first 100 pages of pelecanos's NIGHT GARDNER... totally digging it and can see bits of The Wire all over the place - love how in this book and on the show they drop the pronoun and gender when refering to other cops - he or she is simply 'police'.

edan and/or patrick: when you guys are done, can i drop by and borrow your Lush Life galley? have never read Price and keep hearing how good this one is... don't wanna wait til march!

message 19: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:59PM) (new)

Jason | 18 comments That scene with Omar is one of Price's. I try to pay attention to who's got the writing credits for a show, and I recall that episode as a stand-out among stand-outs... and it was Price's. (And now I'm nervous that I've gotten that misremembered. But ah well...)

This is old, but from a great week-by-week discussion on the show at Slate:

message 20: by jo (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:59PM) (new)

jo i love the scene in the third season in which bodie and poot discuss the role of the towers in their lives as they are walking to the site where people are standing to see the towers blown up to kingdom come. it's a condensed exposition of urban history, or urban non-history, delivered with amazing cynicism, grace, and panache.

i just joined the group. i am a friend of mike's. hi everyone!

message 21: by Tina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:00PM) (new)

Tina The "fuck" scene with Bunk/McNulty stands out for many people. There is of course the fact that the entire scene consists of nothing but the various conjugations of just the one word, but the look on the super's face while they are doing it is utterly priceless. And when they find the shell casing, after all of that, he is just astonished. I always laugh.

What also stands out for me, and what sets this series apart from so many, are the little things:
-Rawls at the gay bar (they will probably never do anything with that little gem and that is fine because that is The Wire),
-Omar discussing Greek mythology with a cop while waiting to go on the witness stand,
-Stringer teaching street bangers the Robert's Rules of Order,
-the cold open scene where they tried to get the desk in through the door as others were trying to get it out. So many more....

I like the idea of reading _Homicide_, there is a lot in there that is reminiscent of the first season of The Wire.

message 22: by Jeff (new)

Jeff (jeffschneider) The Corner by Simon is a must read. Think Bubbles, Michael's family, the school kids. Bob Brown, who was one of the cops who was fighting in ep 1 season 5, is in the book (he's a real police officer playing himself in the show)

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