Book Festivals and “The Wire”

Book Festivals

This has been an excellent weekend for books. The National Book Festival, now in its eleventh year, added an extra day to the festivities on the National Mall. And the Baltimore Book Festival also happened this weekend, though I was so busy with NBF I couldn’t attend.

I had a great time wandering through crowds of book lovers swarming the Mall, watching lines of eager fans snake by the book-signing booths, and listening to great talks about books and writing.

I particularly enjoyed the presentations by Laura Lippman and Dave Eggers. Lippmann let slip that there is a collaboration in the works between her, David Simon, and George Pelecanos. She wouldn’t give any details, but I’m eagerly awaiting anything that may come from that incredibly talented trio of crime writers.

The Wire

For those of you who may not know, Laura Lippman’s husband, David Simon, is executive producer of HBO shows such as The Wire and Treme. (George Pelecanos was also a writer/producer of The Wire.) Jack and I are in the middle of the fourth season of The Wire and enjoying it tremendously–when we canceled our Netflix subscription, the only question we had was how we would be able to finish seasons four and five. Luckily, I found a deal on the entire series, so we are now the proud owners of a boxed set.

I can’t recommend The Wire enough. I am obsessed with place–with geography and belonging–and The Wire is an incredible depiction of Baltimore and its rough-and-tumble residents. Alongside professional actors are born-and-raised residents who have struggled to make a career at the show’s end. The accents–particularly of the non-actors–are on-point.

More than an accurate depiction of a city that gets very little attention, however, The Wire is also very, very well written. Jack and I have written down countless lines that are both witty and telling of a character’s sense of self and purpose.

For instance, when Stringer Bell and Avon Barksdale reflect on how far they have come and how much power and wealth they have amassed, Stringer comments, “We ain’t gotta dream anymore, man.” The meaning of this line is twofold; they no longer have to dream of the wealth and glory they coveted coming up in the poverty of Baltimore’s inner city, for they have attained all of that and more. But now that they are on top, they’ve no longer got a dream to keep them going; the only path for them now is down.

The Wire is one of those rare TV shows that tells a story better, in my opinion, than a book could. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I love shows like this that make me think about how stories are told–visually and verbally–and how characters move through space and time.

I’m glad we decided to buy the boxed set, because this is the kind of show that I will watch over and over again, enjoying it and studying the writers’ craft. I may even like this show more than Arrested Development!

And now that we have cable and a free trial of HBO, I’m going to start digging into shows like Treme. Boardwalk Empire also looks good.

What about you? What shows do you watch and recommend?

8 replies »

  1. We also cancelled our Netflix subscription in the past few months (after subscribing for 9 years!). I don’t know where we’ll get our movies, now, but I’m done with them!

    In the Boston area we had the Salem Lit Fest this weekend; I also posted about “Book Festival Season” in today’s Sunday Salon.

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  2. Yeah, we decided we could just go with Redbox. Blockbuster also seems to be making a comeback, so I’ve got my eye on them.

    Great post! I’m curious to see what you think of “The Art of Fielding.”

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  3. I’m in the middle of season 3 of the Wire right now, and loving it too. Your comments are right on. I’m also furiously scrambling to catch up on Mad Men before season 5 comes out next year. It’s currently my main reason to have Netflix, since they’re now streaming it. I also second the Good Wife recommendation, especially if you’re into political drama, although there’s really nothing like the West Wing, and anything else by Aaron Sorkin, for good television writing.

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  4. Oh, yes, Mad Men in another I’d like to start watching. Jack isn’t interested in it, so I need to motivate myself to watch it alone – usually I end up watching Project Runway when he’s gone.

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  5. There are tons of good tv shows to choose from to say it’s the best. No matter what is said though, there is no doubt that this show ranks #1 of all of them. Yes, there are shows that are a bit newer but this one still has charm. There is comedy, wit, and a little politics, easily moving it up to the top. They just don’t make them like this nowadays.

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