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George Pelecanos

Born February 18, 1957 (1957-02-18) (age 52)
Washington, D.C., United States
Occupation Novelist, Journalist, Television Writer
Nationality American
Subjects Crime fiction
Official website
"Pelecanos" redirects here. For the private investigator and Federal convict and defendant, see Anthony Pellicano.

George Pelecanos (born 1957 in Washington, D.C.) is an American author of detective fiction set primarily in his hometown of Washington, D.C. He is also a film and television producer and a television writer. He worked extensively on the HBO series The Wire.

Contents

Biography

Novelist

Greek-American by descent, Pelecanos's early novels were written in the first person voice of Nick Stefanos, a Greek D.C. resident and some-time private investigator.

After the success of his first four novels, the Stefanos-narrated A Firing Offense, Nick's Trip, and Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go, and the non-series (though some characters do cross over) Shoedog, Pelecanos switched his narrative style considerably and expanded the scope of his fiction with his D.C. Quartet. He has commented that he did not feel he had the ability to be this ambitious earlier in his career.[1] The quartet, often compared to James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet, spanned several decades and communities within the changing population of Washington. Now writing in the third person, Pelecanos relegated Stefanos to a supporting character and introduced his first "salt and pepper" team of crime fighters, Dimitri Karras and Marcus Clay.

In The Big Blowdown, set a generation before Karras and Clay would appear (the 1950s), Pelecanos followed the lives of dozens of D.C. residents, tracking the challenges and changes that the second half of the twentieth century presented to Washingtonians. King Suckerman, set in the 1970s and generally regarded as the fans' favorite, introduced the recurring theme of basketball in Pelecanos' fiction. Typically, he employs the sport as a symbol of cooperation amongst the races, suggesting the dynamism of D.C. as reflective of the good will generated by multi-ethnic pick up games. However, he also indulges the reverse of the equation, wherein the basketball court becomes the site of unresolved hostilities. In such cases, violent criminal behavior typically emerges amongst the participants, usually escalating the mystery. The Sweet Forever (1980s) and Shame the Devil (1990s) closed the quartet and Pelecanos retired Stefanos and the other characters that populated the novels. (Stefanos and other characters do re-appear in subsequent works.)

In 2001, he introduced a new team of private detectives, Derek Strange and Terry Quinn, as the protagonists of Right as Rain. They have subsequently starred in the author's more recent works Hell to Pay (which won a Gumshoe Award in 2003) and Soul Circus. While these books have cemented the author's reputation as one of the best current American crime writers and sold consistently, they have not garnered the critical and cult affection his D.C. quartet did. Rather, they seem to be continuing the author's well received formula of witty protagonists chasing unconflicted criminals behind the backdrop of popular culture references and D.C. landmarks.

Perhaps sensing this, Pelecanos again switched his focus in his 2004 novel, Hard Revolution, taking one of his new detectives, Derek Strange, back in time to his early days on the D.C. police force. In another interesting move, Pelecanos attached a CD to the book itself, emulating Michael Connelly who included a CD with his 2003 Harry Bosch book Lost Light.

In 2005, Pelecanos saw another novel published, Drama City. This book revisited the examination of dogfighting begun in his book Hell To Pay. Pelecanos is a dog owner and has written about his views of dogfighting.[2]

In 2006 he published The Night Gardener, which was a major change of style and which featured a cameo of himself. Pelecanos has also published short fiction in a variety of anthologies and magazines, including Measures of Poison and Usual Suspects. His reviews have been published in The Washington Post Book World, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere.

The Turnaround was published in August 2008, reflecting a return to his roots, as the novel opens in the 70s in a Greek diner, and a continuation of his more modern style in the portion set in the present.

The Wire

Pelecanos has written and produced for HBO's The Wire and is part of a literary circle with non-fiction writer and The Wire producer David Simon and Laura Lippman.

Simon sought out Pelecanos after reading his work. Simon was recommended his novels several times but did not read his work initially because of territorial prejudice; Simon is from Baltimore.[3] Once Simon received further recommendations, including one from Lippman, he tried The Sweet Forever and changed his mind.[4] The two writers have much in common including a childhood in Silver Spring, Maryland, attendance at the University of Maryland and their interest in the "fate of the American city and the black urban poor".[4] They first met at the funeral of a mutual friend shortly after Simon delivered the pilot episode.[4] Simon pitched Pelecanos the idea of The Wire as a novel for television about the American city as Pelecanos drove him home.[4] Pelecanos was excited about the prospect of writing something more than simple mystery for television as he strived to exceed the boundaries of genre in his novels.[4]

Pelecanos joined the writing staff[5] and wrote the first season episode "Cleaning Up".[6][7] He joined the production team for the show's second season[8] and wrote the episodes "Duck and Cover"[9][10] and "Bad Dreams".[11][12] He continued to write and produce for the show's third season[13] and wrote the episodes "Hamsterdam",[14][15] and "Middle Ground".[16][17] Simon and Pelecanos' collaboration on "Middle Ground" received the show's first Emmy nomination, in the category Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.[18] Pelecanos left the production staff of The Wire after the show's third season to concentrate on writing The Night Gardener.[19 ] His role as a producer was taken on by Eric Overmyer.[19 ] Pelecanos continued to work on the show as a writer and contributed to the story and wrote the teleplay for the penultimate episode of the fourth season "That's Got His Own".[20][21] Simon has commented that he missed having Pelecanos working on the show full-time but was a fan of The Night Gardener.[19 ] Simon also spent time embedded with a homicide unit while researching his own book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. Pelecanos wrote a seventh episode of The Wire for the show's fifth and final season, "Late Editions".[4] He was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award award for Best Dramatic Series at the February 2009 ceremony for his work on the fifth season.[22]

Personal life

As of 2006, Pelecanos lives in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland[23] with his wife and three children.

Bibliography

Novels

Nick Stefanos Series

D.C. Quartet Series

Derek Strange and Terry Quinn Series

Editor

  • D.C. Noir (2006)
  • Best American Mystery Stories 2008 (2008)

Filmography

References

  1. ^ Robert Birnbaum. "Interview: George Pelecanos". Identity Theory. http://www.identitytheory.com/interviews/birnbaum100.html. Retrieved 2007-09-17.  
  2. ^ George Pelecanos. "Dogfighting's Poisonous Politics". New Republic. http://209.212.93.14/doc.mhtml?i=20070910&s=pelecanos091007. Retrieved 2007-09-01.  
  3. ^ Mary Alice Blackwell. "Fun comes down to 'The Wire'". Daily Progress. http://www.dailyprogress.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=CDP/MGArticle/CDP_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1173350356360&TheWireHBO. Retrieved 2006-09-27.  
  4. ^ a b c d e f Margaret Talbot (2007). "Stealing Life". The New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/10/22/071022fa_fact_talbot?currentPage=1. Retrieved 2007-10-14.  
  5. ^ "Season 1 crew". HBO. 2007. http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/crew/season_1.shtml. Retrieved 2007-10-14.  
  6. ^ a b "Episode guide - episode 12 The Hunt". HBO. 2004. http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season1/episode12.shtml. Retrieved 2006-07-31.  
  7. ^ a b "Cleaning Up". David Simon, Ed Burns, George P. Pelecanos. The Wire. HBO. 2002-09-01. No. 12, season 1.
  8. ^ "Season 2 crew". HBO. 2007. http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/crew/season_2.shtml. Retrieved 2007-10-14.  
  9. ^ a b "Episode guide - episode 21 duck and cover". HBO. 2004. http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode08.shtml. Retrieved 2006-06-22.  
  10. ^ a b "Duck and Cover". David Simon, George P. Pelecanos. The Wire. HBO. 2003-07-27. No. 08, season 2.
  11. ^ a b "Episode guide - episode 24 bad dreams". HBO. 2004. http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode11.shtml. Retrieved 2006-06-22.  
  12. ^ a b "Bad Dreams". David Simon, George P. Pelecanos. The Wire. HBO. 2003-08-17. No. 11, season 2.
  13. ^ "Season 3 crew". HBO. 2007. http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/crew/season_3.shtml. Retrieved 2007-10-14.  
  14. ^ a b "Episode guide - episode 29 Amsterdam". HBO. 2004. http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode04.shtml. Retrieved 2006-08-07.  
  15. ^ a b "Amsterdam". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2004-10-10. No. 04, season 3.
  16. ^ a b "Episode guide - episode 36 middle ground". HBO. 2004. http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode11.shtml. Retrieved 2006-08-09.  
  17. ^ a b "Middle Ground". David Simon, George P. Pelecanos. The Wire. HBO. 2004-12-12. No. 11, season 3.
  18. ^ "Emmy award archives". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 2007. http://www.emmys.tv/awards/awardsearch.php. Retrieved 2007-10-16.  
  19. ^ a b c "Exclusive David Simon Q&A". AOL. 2007. http://members.aol.com/TheWireHBO/exclusive-17.html. Retrieved 2007-10-14.  
  20. ^ a b "Episode guide - episode 49 That's Got His Own". HBO. 2006. http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season4/episode49.shtml. Retrieved 2007-03-30.  
  21. ^ a b "That's Got His Own". Ed Burns, George Pelecanos, Writ. George Pelecanos. The Wire. HBO. 2004-12-03. No. 12, season 4.
  22. ^ "2009 Writers Guild Awards Television, Radio, News, Promotional Writing, and Graphic Animation Nominees Announced". WGA. 2008. http://wga.org/content/default.aspx?id=3410. Retrieved 2008-12-12.  
  23. ^ Walker Lamond. "DC Confidential". Stop Smiling. http://stopsmilingonline.com/story_detail.php?id=1175. Retrieved 2008-09-21.  
  24. ^ "WaPo review - The Way Home". http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/10/AR2009051002117.html.  

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