Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Greatest works of American Fiction

Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemmingway, Hurston, Baldwin, Wright, Vonnegut, Mailer, Sallinger, Twain, Cooper, Hawthorne, Maggie Fuller, Tom Wolfe, Alice Walker, more...

...and The Wire? A TV show?! Better than the Sopranos, they say? Five seasons as Five Volumes of possibly the best work of contemporary American fiction to date? So says The Atlantic, Time Magazine, The New Yorker, The LA Times, Tom Shales, Stanley Crouch, hell-- even goddamn BET. Uh Huh...BET. That must've been Hudlin's Harvard folks slippin' that one by the 106th & Park crew.
So what's your take? Yeah, it ain't the favorite of the Dancing with The Stars/American Idol fans, or the Wal mart afficionados or Soulja Boy listeners/Keyshia Cole addicts or NASCAR dads...but these are the folk who don't even know of "Janie" or "Gatsby" or "Holden Caulfied," so screw 'em...

The Wire as literary fiction. Yes, the Sopranos was compelling television. But this is more. Tom Wolfe meets Donald Goines. It should thus be enshrined. Think about it.


Anonymous said...

You may be right, Rabbit...you may be right.

But then again, what's the competition?

Anonymous said...

Has someone been reading Pajiba?

I quote: "Of course, what Simon and co-creator Ed Burns have put together far surpasses the best and most intricate of the Greek tragedies — The Wire is really the Great American Novel for the 21st Century."

But I totally agree. The best series ever, it stands alone in its magnificence.

No other series past or present comes close in its portrayal of class, economics, politics, and the sociology of the modern American inner-city.

It is the only series I was compelled to buy all previous seasons on DVD except for Veronica Mars (I know, but Neptune is where the queen and king of Snark live).

I cannot understand why this series has not won every major award that could be bestowed upon it.

Christopher what's your take on its lack of favor with the Hollywood establishment?

Lisa said...

What is the mental bloc the show has among black TV audiences, I ask? It's on BET in redacted form, but I talk to peope like my niece who gobbles up Relentless Aaron books and gangsta fiction. They say it doesn't "speak" to them. I swear they tell me it's too much like "real life"--I swear!!! And this includes the politics, although my niece simply doesn't "get" the stuff on the Baltimore Sun and the demise of journalism.
That means the verdict is that it is not "Escapist" entertainment.

Anonymous said...

i'm on a wire group online and a total member of the cult. it is fabulous television, and i suspect a few nascar dads and keyshia coles fans dig it too. my nephew, who certainly loves him some keyshia coles, never misses a sunday.

good work like the wire just touches folk. some of my colleagues at hunter are addicts, too.


Anonymous said...

It really is a damn shame that this series hasn't received the accolades it deserves. I don't understand why this program hasn't received any Emmys or SAGs.

I don't think Hollywood is ready to accept that a drama featuring a predominately African American cast can be Emmy worthy. Perhaps Hollywood isn't ready to praise a series that gives America and
unsanitized view of the underclass. Perhaps they can't deal with the multi-dimensional depiction of black men.

Even if they won't recognize the series as a whole, it is truly a tragedy not to recognize the work of Michael K. Williams and Idris Elba. I think you would be hard pressed to find depictions of criminals as nuanced as those presented by these two actors.

I have to wonder if their work doesn't merit recognition, what black actor does?

Snowman said...

I do not watch the show, and of course my television will be commandeered this Sunday. However I have seen isolated episodes. I'm struck by the audacity of the producers--and audacity is a good thing--in thinly veiling the political types in Baltimore and Maryland. Indeed the young African American lady who portrays the city council head looks, acts and speaks just like Ms Dixon-Smith, who is the current mayor now that the individual in real life, Martin O'Malley, is the governor. The actor who plays the O'Malley role is Irish, which is wryly amusing to me. I have heard that actor speak that The Wire is one of the top rated dramas on Irish television.

Foofa said...

I don't care how good any script is. It isn't a book. Descriptions of locations and set directions are not the same as descriptive prose.

Anonymous said...

With shows like The Wire I think a human brain functions the same way as when it's processing descriptive prose. I think the difference is that in prose there is one author acting as screenwriter, director, producer, actor, art director and cameraperson. In TV, it is a collaboration.

Anonymous said...

What's your boy Michael Eric Dyson say?

dweiums said...

I agree with Natalie, tragic epic that it is - it is NOT literature . . . yet.

I have found myself enjoying these fictionalized reality-based shows because they have touched on my particular slice of life. 'The Sopranos' because I was born and raised in Newark, NJ and 'The Wire' because I've called Maryland my home for twenty years.

I suspect its the same for others, 'The Wire' touches something very real in their lives. It's a travesty that it has been overlooked in the awards department.

On the other hand, perhaps it will be serialized in book form as the Star Trek shows were (are) and then we can hold it up to other literature.

Unknown said...

The Wire is great television. I don't have HBO so I always must wait for it to come out on video. I recently watched Season 4 using my Netflix subscription. I'm waiting for Season 5 to come to DVD. I want to see how Omar ends up with the young drug kingpin...

peace, Villager