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"The Wire" on DVD has a very loyal following here at the library. Set in Baltimore, the series from writer/producer David Simon follows the drug trade from the perspective of police, dealers, journalists and politicians. Those who can't get enough of "The Wire" might be interested in reading novels with similar settings, such as "Clockers" by Richard Price--one of the writers for "The Wire" series. Published in 1992, this novel was on the bestseller list for several weeks. The novel explores the drug trade from the viewpoints of a likeable teenaged dealer in a New Jersey slum, as well as the cop who is trying to shut him down. One of the things I really liked about "Clockers" was that the young dealer-named "Strike" is portrayed in a sympathetic light (not that he will be up for any citizen of the year awards). He is similar to Eminem in "8 Mile" in that he is a character trapped by circumstances and looking for a way out. Selling drugs makes him a nervous wreck to the point that he chugs Yoo-hoo to soothe his stomach ulcers. Strike is portrayed in sharp contrast to his straight-and-narrow brother, who has a menial job in a fast-food eatery, but is not necessarily a "better" person. It's a morally complicated suspense story, told in raw detail. The book was later made into a movie by Spike Lee, but it's really the novel that's worth "checking out" if you find these stories of the inner city compelling.

Recommended by David Healey


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