Down in the Hole: the unWired World of H.B. Ogden a Review

Let me persuade you for a minute to watch the HBO series Wire if you haven’t already. If civilization ended and only a few artifacts survive to speak to what was America, I hope they will uncover the entire DVD collection of the Wire. The Wire has been often compared to Dickens–but I think it is on par with Shakespeare. Now give the series a chance. Don’t watch just one episode watch the first three or so and then come back and tell me you didn’t want to finish the series. No, chances are you will devour the entire series and you will want to discuss with me and everyone who your favorite characters are your, your favorite season…you will have a lot to think about and say. And if you don’t believe me then just watch this interview between Bill Moyers and the show’s creator David Simon.

If you are already a fan, and you also have an English lit background then you will enjoy Joy DeLyria and Sean Michael Robinson’s Down in the Hole: the unwired World of H.B. Ogden. This isn’t a funny ha-ha satire, more like a smart, clever way of looking at the Wire. The book takes a look at the Wire as if it were a rediscovered serial novel written by Horatio B. Ogden. My favorite part of this book has to be the illustrations. They take classic scenes from the Wire and recreate them as classic book type illustrations from the 19th century. The book also includes excerpts from the novel–classic scenes recreated in 19th century prose. But what is so smart about this is just reading these scenes again in this perspective shows you how wonderful those scenes really are. My personal favorite is “the excerpt” from Book II Chapter XIX. “All Prologue” which is a recreation of one of my favorite all-time scenes with Omar Little–here’s the clip. The book also has some analytical essays about the Wire, of course written from a 19th century perspective, but the authors really have some great insight into the characters, motivations, themes…

If you are a fan of the Wire make sure you get this book.

Oh, and enjoy this clip from another satire, the Wire: the Musical.