Friday, 4 May 2018
Drama City - George Pelecanos
Drama City (2005) is one of Pelecanos's slice of life stories, set on the dark side of Washington DC. The title is meant to be a play on the two drama masks, comedy and tragedy, but there is no comedy here. It's all tragedy and, as in the classical model, it is all inevitable. It is inevitable that Lorenzo Brown, ex-con going straight as dog police with the Humane Society, gets drawn back to his criminal past. It is inevitable that Rachel Lopez, his probation officer, pays the price for either her free and easy sex life or her commitment to her clients. It is inevitable that it is what happens to Rachel that forces Lorenzo back to crime - the only thing that's not inevitable is whether his slip is an one-off or permanent.
Pelecanos is best known in the UK for his collaboration with David Simon on The Wire and Treme. What Pelecanos brought to the table was his fluency in 'street'. He conjures the speech of African American gang-bangers pitch-perfectly. His characters are deftly drawn and they carry the plot with an easy, streetwise lope. Pelecanos is an absolute master of his genre. You either like it or you don't. Personally, I love it.