24. The Turnaround

by George Pelecanos

started 5/13 finished 5/23

With the exception of Tallahassee, Florida, I have only lived in major cities (see previous post) so I assume that every city has its own language and dialect. When I am especially homesick for D.C., I watch The Wire (because there really hasn’t been a tv show based in the nation’s capital with African-American actors since 227). The accent of Black people in Maryland is very distinct – “ar” is pronounced as “er”, “oo” is pronounced “ew”. If you watch The Wire, take note of the character Prop Joe – I swoon when I hear him talk.
I get the same feeling when I read any work by George Pelecanos (a sometime producer and writer for The Wire). He captures the voices of all of the residents of Washington, DC so expertly I feel like I am at home. The Turnaround, his latest book (to be published in August 2008) is a slight departure from his usual gritty, noir tales. Six teenagers are involved in a racially motivated crime that changes all of their lives. It is now 35 years later and one of the men is out of jail and looking for revenge and compensation, while another reaches out for reconciliation. Told against the backdrop of the Iraq war, this novel further illustrates the way that Pelecanos (in all of his books) is able to show the commonalities of the different types of people who inhabit my favorite city.

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