I heart NY



Blue Blood by Edward Conlon

Edward Conlon: This guy can write.


He’s the guy who wrote the amazing novel Red on Red last year, and now I’ve gone back and read his 2004 memoir. 

And guys, he’s got the goods. He’s written Blue Blood in his own wonderfully distinctive voice, and it’s
fabulous. It’s a memoir of his first decade or so with the New York Police
Department, and the guy’s got stories. And he’s good at telling them.

The stuff I really love is the detail he provides about what it’s
really like being a cop: the grittiness, the cold and the drudgery, and the
adrenaline.

And in both his memoir and his novel, he’s captured the
camaraderie of the police. “Partners in a squad car could almost seem married,
in their devotions and divisions, in the conversations they could pick up from
months before, as if they had never stopped talking.” (p. 152)

And this: “We didn’t develop a herd mentality as much as a hive
mentality, instantly known to each other by temperament and task, but a
droning, indistinguishable whole to an outside observer. That’s probably what
it sounded like, too, if you heard us argue over which diner to go to for
breakfast.” (p. 184)

So that stuff is lighter in tone, but there are also some scenes
that make a person catch her breath, and others that make her blink her eyes
really fast to avoid tearing up. 

Example: Conlon was part of a team assigned to
sift through the debris from Ground Zero, which had been brought to a landfill.
They would find personal effects and bones and sections of the airplanes. He
writes, “Firemen arrived, with vanloads of hot food—pizza, lasagna,
sandwiches—and we looked at each other with gratitude and pity: they were sorry
for us, because we had to dig, and we were sorry for them, because of what we
dug out. The firemen laid out the food for us and left the tent with their
gear, tenderly cradling recovered boots and helmets as if they were infants.”
(p. 508)

[blinking fast here]

I’m a sucker for workplace memoirs (also for workplace TV shows: Mary Tyler Moore, The West Wing, Sports Night, The Office), and this is one of the
best.

It also fits into a reading/viewing pattern a friend recently
identified in me: I like books about the good guy/hero types.

One more thing. I recently read that
Conlon’s retired from the police force to write full-time. This, my friends, is good
news for the reading public.

by

Reader, librarian, & happy little geek

7 thoughts on “I heart NY

  1. Pam

    This sounds great. It's always hard to read 9/11 books, especially about the policemen and firefighters who were just trying to help and lost their lives. I'll have to check this one out. 🙂 I just finished a great 'workplace' memoir about working in a professional kitchen called "Heat", so I know what you mean about enjoying books that show you what working someplace is really like. 🙂

  2. LOVE Edward Conlon. I didn't expect to enjoy Blue Blood, but I did. Great book. Love his accent too.

    Looking for more workplace memoirs?
    Go to the Reader's Advisor Online database (it's free now!) and click:
    Advanced Search
    Look under Life Stories/Memoirs on the genre tree at the right
    highlight "Working Life Memoirs" and click search: voila!

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