Exclusive David Simon Q&A (page 2)
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Exclusive David Simon Q&A Q: Could you share the names of a few people who are your inspirations or influences?  [Jeffrey Bufano]

A: Among playwrights, the Greek fellas - Sophocles, Aescylus, Euripides.  O'Neill, Chekov, Shaw, some of the earlier Gus Wilson.  I enjoy Shakespeare but The Wire is decidedly not influenced by the good-evil continuum that seems to begin with Shakespearean drama.  It's more about fate and systemic predestination, with the Olympian gods supplanted by postmodern institutional authority.

Among novelists, I'm poorly read, though I am partial to the work of Hawthorne and Melville, and I like them big-ass Russian books, especially Dostoevsky, and no one I've ever read exhibits more wit when it comes to the human condition than Twain.  Among more modern writers, I'll shout out for James Baldwin, Cormac McCarthy, Richard Price, Martin Amis and Updike.  I think Robert Penn Warren's "All The Kings Men" is the great American novel, though Fitzgerald came close once or twice.  Having said all that, I am just now getting to Nabokov and that big long shelf of Phillip Roth, so I'm probably just citing what I've gotten to and what stayed in my own head, rather than what should've influenced me if I'd been more deliberate and less autodidactic about my reading.  And aside from a certain Ms. Lippman, I know for certain I haven't read enough female authors, which is why, I suppose, my own writing is so gender-biased.  Jane Austen, here I come.

Among narrative journalists, I admire James Agee's "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men," and Michael Herr's "Dispatches," as well as Jim Bouton/Irwin Shecter's "Ball Four."  They are the most influential templates for my own journalistic misadventures.

Among filmmakers, I learned a lot from watching documentaries of various kinds, especially the work of Frederick Wiseman.  Documentarians are more of an influence on my style - or lack of style, perhaps - than many auteurs.  Having said that, I'm a devoted fan of the Coen Brothers, and I think "Miller's Crossing" is magical.  Also, I'm fairly convinced that "Chinatown" may be the most perfect screenplay ever.

Among musicians, I count Woody Guthrie as my only remaining hero in life, save for Ella Thompson.  I admire the songwriting of Steve Earle, Tom Waits, and Shane MacGowan, but I listen to just about everything from Bill Monroe to Thelonious Monk to Kanye West.

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