Thanks for all the questions, everyone. This was fun.

I am Jonathan Abrams, New York Times bestselling author and Bleacher Report journalist. I wrote the book ALL THE PIECES MATTER, an oral history of The Wire that talks to the creators, writers, and celebrities who were there. This is a behind-the-scenes look at how the greatest show of all time came together.

Ask me anything.



Comments: 105 • Responses: 13  • Date: 

wryanm12 karma

What's the deal with Rawls in the gay bar and it never being addressed again?

Seemed so out of character and then just disappears like it never happened.

jpdabrams17 karma

“In his brilliance, he never touched it again… He just dropped that little seed in there." - John Doman about David Simon.

TheCosby10 karma

Thanks for doing this! I loved Boys Among Men. I remember hearing on a podcast or something how you really wanted to get an interview with Kevin Garnett for that book, but you weren't able to. Was there anyone you had high on your list that you weren't able to talk to for this book? In general, how was the process of getting in touch with everyone and were they open to it? Thanks again. I'm picking up the book tonight and can't wait to read it.

jpdabrams12 karma

Two people. The publicist for Hassan Johnson (Wee-Bey) asked for $700 for an interview. I don’t even know if he ever got the request and I can understand wanted to be compensated for his time. A hustler has to hustle. The problem was that if I paid him, I’d have to pay everyone I tried to interview and I’d have a book, but no place to live. Clark Johnson, who played Gus Haynes, in Season 5, was another one. More importantly, he directed the pilot, second episode and series finale. Actually, three. Joy Lusco was a writer in the earlier seasons and I couldn’t get in touch with her. But The Wire universe was mammoth. I knew heading in that there would be some people I wouldn’t be able to get in touch with.

samoflegend10 karma

Is there any reason why you think people look down on the second season? Always thought that it hit a little too close to home for white people.

jpdabrams29 karma

I can’t tell you how much I disliked it when it first aired. It took me away from Avon, from Stringer, from Omar. But it’s only when you look out and view that season as a whole that you can really come to appreciate it. David Simon was trying to show that you can’t trace the drug and crime epidemic through race, but by class.

Fanofsport909 karma

Jonathan, thanks for writing the book. I have always hated Marlo as a character because he had no respect for anyone, especially Prop Joe who groomed him. (Then obviously killed him)

What's your stance on Marlo?

jpdabrams22 karma

I thought Jamie Hector played Marlo so well and with so much restraint. There’s a funny anecdote that Gbenga (Chris Partlow) told me that he and Jamie ran into Russell Simmons and Russell just kind of looked at them and took a step back. Gbenga said that he forgot about the impact he and Jamie can have in public together. But Marlo represented a detachment from the previous generation—one that played in the game, but also had a certain set of rules and decorum that they lived by. Marlo was the embodiment of someone who wanted pure, uncut power.

ndprice7 karma

I bought an extra copy to send to my brother who has never seen the show (because he is trash), would you recommend him watching the show first and then reading the book or vice versa to get him hooked on both?

Have you gotten feedback from people who have never seen the show but still love the book?

Also thanks for being dope and writing about dope things.

jpdabrams8 karma

If he hasn't seen the show, he should watch it first and then read the book because it covers everything-- spoilers included.

Tadams108016 karma

Did Simon or Pelecanos ever say anything about wanting to continue the story? Either in a new series or mini-series? It’s amazing as is, but would be interesting to see the rise of Avon and Stringer.

jpdabrams1 karma

No plans to continue as of now, unfortunately


Did you interview anyone who told you a story that made you do the Wee Bey face from this gif and if so what was the story?

jpdabrams12 karma

I knew that a lot of The Wire was sourced from real life people and events. I don’t think I appreciated just how much of the show was based on real life, which was basically everything. All the characters were based off of people or were based off the composites of several people. David Simon said the rule for the show was that everything started from a kernel of fact and then the writers worked to spin it into The Wire’s universe.

Orange4335 karma

1) What's the best thing that didn't make it into the book? Or, phrased differently, what's the last thing you had to cut?

2) How do you rank the seasons? Are you a 43125 guy?

3) How do you begin the early interviews for such a massive project? Like, do you just sit down and say, "So... The Wire, huh?"

4) Best writing tip you got from a writer from the show?

jpdabrams9 karma

1) I've been sharing a lot of extra stuff on Twitter, if you want to check it out. @jpbabrams over there.

2) 4 is the best season of television I’ve ever seen. 3 ties up everything perfectly (it was almost the series finale before Simon pushed HBO to continue). 1 introduces you into this world. 2, I’ve appreciated more after reporting this book, because of how it builds out the landscape of the world and it took guts for Simon to take the show in a whole different direction. I’m not as down on 5 as a lot of other people, but something had to come last. I think it would’ve been more well rounded if they had had their normal number of episodes, but they were squeezed. Simon, for example, said he would have been able to go deeper with Scott Templeton. Templeton seemed one dimensional, atypical for The Wire.

3) After getting the green light from David Simon, I interviewed Michael B. Jordan first. A good start, right? Bill Simmons, my old boss at Grantland, had had Jordan on his podcast a couple of times and was kind enough to put me in touch with his manager. From there, Alexa Fogel, the show’s casting director was integral in helping me get in touch with numerous Wire alum—from Idris Elba to Dominic West, etc. She believed in the book and it wouldn’t have been possible without her. Same with Reena Rexrode, Simon’s assistant.

4) Selfishly, this was one of the best things about working on this book. I was able to pick the minds of these literary giants like Simon, Richard Price, George Pelecanos and Dennis Lehane. One thing Pelecanos said that really sticks out with me is that when you’re working on a book, there’s so much focus on trying to get it done and you want to be at the end. But when you’re on page 77, you need to be completely focused and absorbed with what’s happening on page 77. You can’t be worrying about what’s going to go on page 185.

get_innocuous5 karma

There's an interesting video called Style in the Wire that discusses the oft-overlooked visual aesthetics of The Wire that make it so great. Is that something you tried to cover as part of this project, especially as it relates to the HD remastering?

Excited to read the book!

jpdabrams12 karma

Uta Briesewitz was the cinematographer for the first couple of seasons of The Wire. She and Bob Colesberry were crucial in developing the show’s stylistic vision, which is discussed in the book. Not going to lie, it’s not my area of expertise, but Uta was integral in arguing that the show should be shot in the same style whether they were filming on the street or in the police department. Her argument was that the criminals showed as much intelligence and often more than the police and that it should be reflected in how they shot the show.

Trutherist2 karma

How many copies do you need to sell to be a 'bestseller'?

Did you self-publish or do you have a publisher?

jpdabrams7 karma

I have a publisher-- Crown Archetype, part of Penguin Random House.

jpdabrams17 karma

and it's all in the game, yo

a-tribe-called-mex2 karma

How many hours do you think it takes to do research and interview for this book? Do you think a non fic book takes longer than a fic book to write?

jpdabrams4 karma

A lot.

I've never written fiction, I can't say.

giantsfan972 karma

Do you have a personal favorite character/season/scene/plotline?

Did any of the above answers change from before writing the book?