cover image The Corner

The Corner

David Simon. Broadway Books, $27.5 (560pp) ISBN 978-0-7679-0030-0

In the authors' note, Simon (Homicide) and Burns, a retired patrolman and detective with the Baltimore Police Department, encapsulate their year-long (1992-1993) experience on a West Baltimore street corner interviewing drug addicts and watching children grow up too fast. They masterfully present a theater of the drug war as they follow four generations of the McCullough family, concentrating on 15-year-old DeAndre, who attempts to rise above the mistakes of his heroin- and cocaine-addicted parents but fails to escape the pressures of the street. Yet his story allows exploration of other issues, such as the history of the corner's drug activities and the attitudes of the police, the social workers and the high-school teachers who have all but lost hope for the area's children. Part family neighborhood portrait, part political-social analysis, the book conveys the feeling of helplessness of those who awake every morning thinking only of their ""next blast"" and the arrogance of those who condemn them for it. The loss of innocence chronicled here is summed up by a line from one of DeAndre's poems: ""Hungry for knowledge, but afraid to eat."" Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)