Saturday, May 05, 2007

All Laura, All the Time

These days, no one seems to be able to get enough of Laura Lippman. As the former Baltimore Sun reporter hit the road promoting her 12th novel, the very well-received What the Dead Know (Morrow), she’s turned up wowing the crowd at Thurber House in Columbus; on the Early Show; and, most recently, in an engaging interview in the Saturday edition of The Wall Street Journal.

When the WSJ’s Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg queried Lippman on the influence of TV shows such as The Wire on contemporary crime fiction, the author offered a well-stated and passionate opinion:
They haven’t influenced mine that much, truthfully. But I think “The Wire” is beginning to influence some writers. What’s going on with “The Wire” is that it is constructed somewhat like a novel. The things that people respond to are the novelistic details that tell a complicated story over 10 to 13 hours. It is written by very good novelists who bring their eye and ear--and then have flesh-and-blood humans inhabit their vision. There’s no substitute for the impact of film or television. I know young writers who want to write like “The Wire,” not realizing it’s built on such novels as Richard Price’s “Clockers” and Dennis Lehane’s “Mystic River,” or the great body of George Pelecanoss work.

Sometimes I hear people say it’s like Dickens or Tolstoy, and I think: Even the intellectuals don’t want to read a book any more. As complicated and daunting as “The Wire” is, if you can prop yourself up on the couch, it will proceed on its own. But a book requires initiative to turn the page and engage your own imagination. I don’t understand novelists looking to a TV show that has clearly drawn its strengths from novelists. They should be looking at it and say, “now I should read everything Richard Price has written.”
Lippman talks also about who she’s reading (Declan Hughes) as well as her own process. The interview is very good, and it’s here.

READ MORE:A Novel for Fans of HBO’s The Wire,” by Marshal Zeringue (Campaign for the American Reader).

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