as I head out of town for a couple of days. In the meantime, I’m not so humble that I won’t recommend “A Pelecanos Dictionary,” my attempt to discuss George Pelecanos‘ new novel, The Turnaround, in terms of some of his most persistent themes, tics, settings, and so forth:
Pelecanos has spent more than 15 years writing 15 novels that, taken together, make for a panoramic story about Washington, D.C. That’s a lot of waterfronts, a lot of neglected corners, and—to pick just one of the writer’s hobby horses—a whole lot of references to Stax/Volt singles. But there’s an irony buried in this career path: As his study of the city has deepened, his writing has become more and more simplified. Read his books in chronological order—starting with 1992’s A Firing Offense up to the brand-new The Turnaround—and the change in Pelecanos’ writing mirrors the change in a typical Pelecanos character. There’s a youthful recklessness, then a growing wisdom about the world’s complexities, then a kind of essentialized understanding of it. As his characters have gone through a debullshitification process, so has he.
Back to the usual schedule on Monday.