October 15, 2011
Kicking Off the Boston Book Festival
Last night I made a drive from the Berkshires to Boston in the pouring rain, arriving just in time to grab a seat at "The Art of The Wire: A Discussion with the Cast and Creators." The panel featured fellow DC writer George Pelecanos, Donnie Andrews (the real "Omar"), Fran Boyd (Andrews's wife and the inspiration for The Corner, which in some ways was the prequel to The Wire), Tray Chaney (who played "Poot"), Robert Chew ("Prop Joe"), and Jamie Hector ("Marlo Stanfield").
That's them, seated left to right--I surreptitiously snapped a shot of the stage from Row D. Sorry about the quality but I was nervous the director of the festival, who happened to be sitting in the seat behind me, would tell me to put my damn phone away.
As someone who watched and loved all five seasons of The Wire, it was great to hear their insights. Three highlights:
-George Pelecanos's brave admission (in response to an audience question) that The Wire, though it did have women writers on staff, "could have done better" by its women characters in terms of complicating and/or illuminating their motivations.
-The "real Omar," in response to the suggestion that the show reinforced stereotypes, said "How can you stereotype reality? ... Back in the day, I'd be walking down the sidewalk with someone--just two of us--and a white woman coming up the other way would clutch her pocketbook to her chest. I don't snatch pocketbooks! I might put a gun in your face, but I won't snatch your pocketbook."
-Finding out Robert Chew, who had previously worked for years as a theater teacher, had been assigned to coach the kid actors featured in Season 4 (the one that focused on the schools). I love the mental image of Prop Joe running lines. Several people on stage said Season 4 was their favorite.
I feel really, really lucky to be here. Today, I get to read from I Was the Jukebox and speak with Stephen Burt and Jessica Bozek on persona poetry at 10:30 AM; then I join Ben Ryder Howe, Carlos Eire, and Maisie Houghton for a panel on the art of memoir at 4:15 PM. You can find the full schedule here.