Tuesday, November 27, 2007

George Pelecanos

Rob Lord interviewed George Pelecanos, author of The Night Gardner and other terrific novels, for the Fall 2007 issue of Spinetingler Magazine.

The opening exchanges of the interview:

Rob: As a student at the University of Maryland you took a class covering hard-boiled detective fiction. Can you tell us about your experience in this class and how it set you on the path to write crime fiction?

George: The class, taught by Mr. Charles Mish, had a very simple format: we read paperback novels and discussed them. Mr. Mish was bearish, very smart, and a regular guy. I could relate to someone like that, a combination of the physical and the intellectual, over the standard professorial type. Because of his manner and enthusiasm, I got jacked up on reading for the first time in my life. He considered crime fiction to be as valid a form of literature as any other type of novel, and from what I heard, he was ostracized for this within the English department. I wrote him a letter before he died, telling him about the impending publication of my first novel, thanking him, in effect. This was a case of one teacher changing someone’s life.

Rob: What drew you to the crime genre?

George: The crime novel spoke to my world. By that I mean, it described the lives and struggles of everyday, working class people. It was written for readers, not academics. It was populist literature. And when it was written with ambition and care, it had the possibility of permanence.
Read the entire interview.

--Marshal Zeringue