Dennis Lehane, author of ‘Mystic River’: “No one is born a racist, hate is passed on from parents to children”

Dennis Lehane He was born in Dorchester in 1965. The most conflicted and violent neighborhoods in South BostonIn a family of Irish immigrants. As his applause shows ‘Mysterious River’new detective novel‘Last Blow’ (Salamandra Black) admits that this book, which hits bookstores this week, is a product of her childhood.’Dungeon Island Via video conference from Los Angeles. Rewind to 1974, when a young black man died on the subway tracks and a teenager disappeared in a neighborhood controlled by a local gangster, sparking race riots over a judge’s decision to force schoolchildren to travel by bus to end segregation. Bus to study in schools in other neighborhoods.

Protagonist Mary Pat lost her son to drugs and is now looking for her missing daughter. Pure maternal courage.

I came across stories of mothers taking revenge for the death of their children. There is a cruelty in every mother just about having children. Even if he didn’t have children, he would already be tough; he is a product of the same kind of abuse and violence that exists around him. We are a product of our environment.

You can see the despair of someone who has lost everything that is important to them.

Yes, I was wondering what would happen if he took a woman so brutally and took everything she had. And now you see that you have nothing left to lose. Either she succeeds in what she sets out to do, or she will die doing it.

“She is a tough and unbreakable woman, but paradoxically she is broken,” he writes.

I knew a few Mary Pats when I was a kid. They were fierce women who raised terrible children. There is something broken, destroyed, burned in such people… this paradox makes them seemingly unbreakable.

Scary kids?

Their parents instill lies and hatred in them, and they end up receiving racist reactions. No one is born a racist, hatred is passed on from parents to children.

“Writing this book was a way to confront my past and my ghosts”

The biggest theme of the novel is racism. You were 9 years old during the protests against Judge Garrity in 1974.

I remember that summer very well, it was unforgettable: the anger, the protests, burning the effigies and hanging them on the lampposts, the posters in the windows, how they drew ‘KKK’ from the Ku Klux Klan, ‘Animals’. ‘go home on the walls’ (Animals go home). At the age of 9, the child’s natural narcissism disappears and you begin to see yourself as a part of the world and become aware of what is happening around you.

What do you think about this racism?

At first these were demonstrations not against blacks, but against your children being forced to transfer to a school on the other side of town. That’s how it all started. And that was a legitimate argument. He wasn’t against desegregation, he was against how it was carried out and how it only affected poor neighborhoods. However, this turned into great anger and rage against African Americans. It was angry, discriminatory and derogatory language. This took me away from my surroundings a little bit and I kept quiet and observed, so I had to become a writer.

How was your family life?

My parents were not racist. One of my brothers didn’t do it either, but he went out on the street. This existed in families, in neighborhoods, and even today it has not disappeared. This is the perception of otherness, the perception of the ‘other’ and that ‘others’ are not members of the same human race. You cannot shoot another person if you identify with him. But if you remove the layer of humanity, yes.

“The protests distilled a great deal of anger and rage against African Americans. It was angry, discriminatory and derogatory.”

He seems to point out in the book that it is poverty, not race, that divides us.

I used to think so too, but not anymore. At the Black Lives Matter protests, two middle-class white men emerged from their homes armed with shotguns at protesters. This no longer comes from poverty, but from the institutionalized idea that these are the ‘others’, that we are two tribes. Many people view the African American community as a colony within the country. This is bullshit.

Has the situation gotten worse with Trump or has it just come to light?

It came to light. Many things are better now. For example, my marriage is mixed, something that wasn’t possible 30 years ago but people don’t care about today. This is progress, no one cares. But portraying America this way doesn’t make money. Money divides us, turns it into entertainment, makes people froth at the mouth on TV and makes it seem like everything is terrible.

He writes that the Boston neighborhoods where he grew up were “people who were tired of living, working like mules, and had no chance.” Is it still like this?

It’s not in South Boston anymore. It’s actually gentrified, it’s completely different. But the white movement of poor and angry people disappeared in the countryside, no longer in the cities. Cities are the meeting point of cultures. In small towns with all-white areas, they are the ones who voted the most for Trump. Trump can’t do anything in cities, so he always paints cities as hotbeds of crime.

“When I write a script for a TV series, unlike my books, I don’t pick up a pen until I know every aspect of all the scenes; I plan them out a lot.”

When he came to Barcelona to receive the Carvalho Award in 2017, he said about Trump that 250 years of democracy will not be destroyed, they will survive and they know how to deal with it. Do you think the same?

Yes, it would be painful if Trump came to power again, but he did not change the country last time. Even though he did two very damaging things: He got the courts his way and rolled back the abortion law; but the cost of doing so proved so high that it meant Republicans would lose many seats in the House of Representatives in 2022. Of course, this worries me, but I believe that the American system continues to work, and we are fighting in court to prove it, for example, on January 6th. [el asalto trumpista al Capitolio de 2021] This was an abomination. We’ll see…

Many of his books have successfully reached the big screen. He is the screenwriter of TV series such as ‘The Wire’ and ‘Bloodline’… He released the crime mini-series ‘Black Bird’ in 2022… Do you see an actress playing Mary Pat?

Yes, but I can’t say who it is. I am preparing a series as a producer and I am also responsible for the scripts. If I say who I want but can’t understand, he will know that the second option is the second lesson…

There are scenes in ‘Coup de Grace’ that are perfectly displayed on screen. Do you write novels with a cinematic mind?

No, the word ‘cinema’ seems strange to me because books appeared long before cinema. A good novel is a living thing. I write through the creation of characters and language. I need to understand the voice of the book telling the story, what it will sound like in my head. Different voices are evident in my novels. This is told in the voice of ‘Mystic River’ and ‘The Delivery’, this is my favorite voice, I compare it to the voice of a man sitting at the bar of a bar telling good stories. When I gave birth to Mary Pat, I started writing without knowing exactly how it would progress, I didn’t want to know. On the other hand, when I write a script, I don’t pick up a pen until I know all the scenes in every aspect; unlike my books, I plan them a lot.

He wrote the novel during Covid, but nothing leaked, right?

No, I was doing a television series when the pandemic started and everything was falling apart, everything was falling apart. And my brain split and I started writing this book. That’s what saved me from all this madness. It’s just like when I was writing as a kid and thinking: ‘I don’t like where I am, and I’m going to create a place that I like.’ It was a way to confront my past and my ghosts. It was a book where no one wore a mask and there was no Covid. Fantastic!

Which ghosts are you talking about?

To everything. It was crazy growing up in that environment because I saw myself as a 9-year-old. It’s no wonder that writing about this topic brings me so many emotions. I hadn’t come to terms with what it was like to process all of this when I was 9 years old.

Source: Informacion


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