Design and Product in the Work of Price and Simon

Perhaps due to its standing as a novel, I found Richard Price’s Clockers much more character-driven than David Simon’s Homicide and The Corner. It is worth noting that Clockers focuses on a smaller set of characters than those featured in Simon’s work. While it is recognizable that Clockers and Simon’s nonfiction share a resemblance, stylistic as well as content-based, I wondered throughout my reading of Clockers if the novel stands out as more “literary” than Simon’s work—and not simply because of its place in the category of fiction. It seems that Price’s task is two-fold, to explore the circumstances surrounding low-life drug dealers as well as to portray complex human interaction, as emphasized in the dynamic relationship between homicide detective Rocco Klein and drug dealer “Strike.” In this sense, does Price accomplish more than Simon? In other words, does he achieve an illustration of the drug trade in the projects of Northern New Jersey as in-depth as Simon’s depiction of crime in inner-city Baltimore in addition to more fully rounding out his characters? These queries call upon an underlying issue: what are the qualities that define a piece of literature as “literary”? Furthermore, it is important to consider that Homicide, The Corner, and Clockers may not set out to fulfill the same objectives.

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