The Real ‘Wire’

Jonathon Kozol updates tales of America's poor

Reading a Jonathon Kozol book is intense. It’s like reading a less police-driven script of The Wire, but just as jaw-dropping and eyebrow-raising. . . . and it’s real.

Mostly, Kozol writes about children. In his latest book, Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America, he revisits subjects from his earlier books, published from 1990 to 2005. Kids who lived in the Martinique, a poor housing complex about 15 blocks from New York’s theater district, now have kids of their own, or their parents have died, or they moved from the meanest New York streets to rural Montana only to find depression and anger destroy their lives. Just 15 pages of this book makes my First World problems seem that much more insignificant.

But Fire in the Ashes isn’t wholly depressing, and the positive stories shine even brighter because of this. Kozol’s journalistic detail is sprinkled with reflective empathy, and he keeps a professional tone, making for a most impactful delivery.

Jonathon Kozol discusses his latest book in a literary luncheon on Thursday, Sept. 6, at Book Passage. 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. Noon. $60 includes lunch and book.—Nicolas Grizzle