Friday, October 8, 2010

Hopefully he'll realize this "television producer" thing isn't working out

The recipients of this year's MacArthur "genius" grants were announced. As usual, it's a panoply of a bunch of awesomecrazy people, a high school physics teacher, a language preservationist, a quantum astrophysicist, a geneticist who looks like he got a really bad sunburn while wearing a pair of sunglasses, &c. Nestled among a phalanx of awesome obscuros, lo and behold, is writer/producer David Simon! Putting aside the fact that giving a half-million dollar "stipend" to the cable television producer responsible for super-hit The Wire (among other things), who's already richer than everyone you know put together, is probably a little beside the point for the guy, I couldn't be happier.

I've long thought Simon was the cat's pyjamas, long before everyone started jumping on his Wire bandwagon. The man, who started out as a journalist, wrote only two books: Homicide: Life on the Streets and The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood. But trust me, they are both doozies. To call them "probably the best nonfiction written in my lifetime" is really not even a little bit hyperbole. They are incredible, moving, unsentimental, novelistic, Big Important books. He's a little like what if Richard Price novels were nonfiction, or Ryszard Kapuściński didn't make so much stuff up and wasn't such a drama queen. They are the best social novels you will ever read, and they are real.

Seriously. These books. Find them. Read them.

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