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Soul Circus

by George Pelecanos

Soul Circus by George Pelecanos X
Soul Circus by George Pelecanos
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2003, 336 pages
    Feb 2004, 416 pages

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Soul Circus is very DC. At least a certain part of DC. I found myself almost turning to a city map to follow along with the action. The action is inner city drama of bad people doing bad things and good people trying to get out, but always somehow getting pulled back in. Inner city tragedy complete with senseless violent deaths in a haze of drugs and beer. Lots of kids running around with no parental supervision...

What works is the pace and tone of the book. Pelacanos also has an incredible ear for the street language: ah...judging from the back cover, he wasn't exactly raised in them parts.

In the end, I found this book to be a little heavy-handed on the moralizing, and I couldn't help thinking it seems like a weaker cousin to a story that may have been going on books before. The pace of the story and picture the author paints of certain streets of DC make it a gripping, although grim read. Not for everyone, but good conversation material.

Liberal Guilt Trip to the SOUL CIRCUS
While this is a good story and written fairly well, the book's impact is really weakened by its constant moralizing, both in character dialogue and in author editorializing. In the author's stereotypical view, all of DC's street crime, corruption and evil is always the fault of someone else...never the truly bad nature of the punks and minor league gangbangers in DC's nefarious Hoods (pun required).

It's always someone or something else that causes the kids to go bad in this book...never their lack of parents, education , a positive future that can be had, or, their own innate racism.

I have been on the streets as both a cop and as a journalist, and this author does have the characters' talk and the walk right. But, his blaming all the violence on strawman gun deals is pure ATF bunk and propaganda. This author is another limo liberal and it shows in his book.
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