Simon, David 1960-
SIMON, David 1960-
PERSONAL: Born September 2, 1960, in Washington, DC; son of Bernard (a public relations executive) and Dorothy (a homemaker; maiden name, Ligeti) Simon; married Kayle Tucker (a graphic artist), September 22, 1991; children: Ethan Simon. Education: University of Maryland—College Park, B.S., 1983. Religion: Jewish.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—c/o Author Mail, Broadway Books, Doubleday Broadway Group, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.
CAREER: Journalist. University of Maryland Diamondback, College Park, editor and reporter, 1978-81, editor-in-chief, 1981-82; Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, MD, correspondent, 1982-83, city reporter, 1983-95; writer and television producer of Homicide: Life on the Street, National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), beginning 1995.
AWARDS, HONORS: Five national and thirteen regional newspaper-writing awards; Anthony Award, True Crime, 1992, for Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets.
Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1991.
(With Edward Burns) The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 1997.
The Wire (television series), Home Box Office, 2002.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The Detail, a novel about urban police work; a book about criminal defense attorneys.
SIDELIGHTS: Between 1983 and 1995 Maryland-based journalist David Simon covered the city beat for the Baltimore Sun. His 1991 book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets was the result of a special yearlong assignment in 1988, during which he followed the officers of the city's homicide department, viewing crime scenes and emergency rooms, and witnessing police interrogations of murder suspects as well as the impact of violent crime upon the lives of others. During his year shadowing the work of eighteen police detectives, the city suffered 234 murders; "with empathy, psychological nuance, racy verbatim dialogue and razor-sharp prose," Simon provides readers with "the detective's tension-wracked world," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor. His book proved so compelling that it was later the basis for a television series.
Several years later, beginning in the winter of 1992, Simon joined with teacher and former-cop Edward Burns to take on a similar year-long chronicle, which they published in 1997 as The Corner: A Year in theLife of an Inner-City Neighborhood. "Against all the sanctions we can muster," the authors note at the outset of their 1997 book, "this new world is surviving, expanding, consuming everything in its path." Focusing on Baltimore's ethnically mixed Franklin Park neighborhood, a known hang-out for drug dealers, junkies, and residents too poor to escape the resulting violence, Simon and Burns spent countless hours following the activities at the intersection of Monroe and Fayette streets, a high-traffic area, where they became involved in the lives of people trapped in the cycle of addiction and crime, and recorded the history of the West Baltimore neighborhood and its disintegration, the efforts of police and social workers to battle the problems, and the efforts of many to escape while others died or succumbed to despair.
In The Corner the authors present "full portraits instead of caricatures" of their subjects, noted Washington Monthly contributor Steve Bogira, who credited the accomplishment to the authors' "willingess to stay close to their subjects for more than a year." Noting that "the people of the corner are obviously not saints," Bogira added that "as the authors show, most are not sociopaths either; they want a better life for themselves and their kin." Praising the authors for their ability to present a compassionate portrait of the human cost of the nation's drug war, a Publishers Weekly reviewer described the book as "part family neighborhood portrait, part political-social analysis."
The Corner is "a bracing read," according to an Economist critic, who noted that the inclusion of the sounds, jargon, and "incessant incidents of street life prove suspenseful. Its periodic sermonettes about addiction, the drug war, teen pregnancy and welfare dependency are crafted with such a hard-bitten, street-level sensibility—and without any preconceptions or ideology—that they exude immediate credibility." Calling The Corner "an important book sure to generate controversy," Booklist contributor Wes Lukowsky added that "Simon and Burns have put a human face on a national disgrace." "At 543 grim pages, [The Corner] is a challenge, sometimes a chore, to read," added Alex Tresniowski in a review for People, but "the reward is a deepened understanding of America's complex, intractable drug culture and, indeed, of human nature."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Enterprise, May-June, 1998, Martin Morse Wooster, review of The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood, p. 83.
Booklist, July, 1997, Wes Lukowsky, review of The Corner, p. 1773.
Economist (U.S.), October 11, 1997, review of The Corner, p. 110.
Journal of the American Planning Association, winter, 1999, p. 127.
Library Journal, August, 1997, Paula Dempsey, review of The Corner, p. 113.
People, November 17, 1997, Alex Tresniowski, review of The Corner, p. 47.
Publishers Weekly, April 26, 1991, review of Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, p. 50; July 14, 1997, review of The Corner, p. 74.
Washington Monthly, October, 1997, Steve Bogira, review of The Corner, p. 55.*