While my interest is usually piqued when it comes to urban sociological history, I have to admit it is my slightly obsessive love of the TV show, The Wire, that drew me to Antero Pietila’s Not in My Neighborhood. Antero Pietila spent thirty-five years as a reporter with the Baltimore Sun, covering the city’s neighborhoods, politics, and government. His firsthand nose-to-the-ground experience in Baltimore, as well as the fact that the book entails analyzing this knowledge, is what makes the content so enticingly provocative to a larger audience. Pietila is not the only reporter to see a need to address and create rhetoric focusing on this historically sociologically problematic American city. David Simon, the creator, head writer, and producer of The Wire—the most realistic and provocative American crime drama to grace the small screen, which was on HBO from 2002–2008—was a former police reporter for the Baltimore Sun. His decision to return to Baltimore, film crew in tow, has changed not only the landscape of American fictional programming, but has opened eyes to the reality of Baltimore’s streets.

Each of the show’s five seasons focus on different factors that together cause an unhealthy environment in a city desperately trying to rebuild itself. The first season introduces the drug organizations; the second season the union longshoremen; the third season moves back to the streets and expands the drug organizations and their relationship with Baltimore politics; the fourth season deals with both the dirty politics of a mayoral campaign and the struggling school system; and finally, the fifth season brings all of the other seasons together—highlighting the negative effects of journalism and media consumption.

While the sociological ramifications of a history of racial segregation are not endemic to Baltimore, they are certainly a major catalyst for the city’s problems. The Wire does justice to these issues, using actual Baltimore citizens and ex-gang members as minor actors through its production run, as well as tackling the real sociopolitical problems occurring in the city head on. Fans of the show, like myself, will welcome Pietila’s book as both a companion piece to The Wire as well as a sociohistorical resource to explain why Baltimore is still suffering the aftereffects of long-term racial segregation and bigotry on both a city and federal level.

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Bond, (birder) James Bond

January 20, 2010

James Bond: British secret agent or American ornithologist? But the true origin of Ian Fleming’s famous character is far from the most important revelation in Michael McCarthy’s book SAY GOODBYE TO THE CUCKOO, which shows us just how frighteningly close we are to the unimaginable reality of a world without birds.

A Single Man and Huxley

January 19, 2010

Recently released, A Single Man is Tom Ford‘s directorial debut of this classical Christopher Isherwood novel. There is a part in the movie about Aldous Huxley‘s book, After Many A Summer Dies the Swan, published by Ivan R. Dee, Publisher. In case you are interested in reading more:

A Hollywood millionaire with a terror of death, whose personal physician happens to be working on a theory of longevity-these are the elements of Aldous Huxley’s caustic and entertaining satire on man’s desire to live indefinitely. With his customary wit and intellectual sophistication, Huxley pursues his characters in their quest for the eternal, finishing on a note of horror. “This is Mr. Huxley’s Hollywood novel, and you might expect it to be fantastic, extravagant, crazy and preposterous. It is all that, and heaven and hell too….It is the kind of novel that he is particularly the master of, where the most extraordinary and fortuitous events are followed by contemplative little essays on the meaning of life….The story is outrageously good.”—New York Times. “A highly sensational plot that will keep astonishing you to practically the final sentence.”—The New Yorker. “Mr. Huxley’s elegant mockery, his cruel aptness of phrase, the revelations and the ingenious surprises he springs on the reader are those of a master craftsman; Mr. Huxley is at the top of his form.” —Times Literary Supplement.

Isherwood and Huxley even collaborated on a project once, Jacob’s Hands. Sharon Stone discovered it while researching Huxley’s work for a film based on one of his short stories.

Spring 2010 list online

January 8, 2010

Check out the Ivan R. Dee Spring 2010 list on our website: www.ivanrdee.com.

If you want an online catalog, you can find it here.