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First Person

Hey, author Dennis Lehane misses Boston snow

As he looks toward the March 10 release of the final book in his Joe Coughlin series, “World Gone By,” the author reflects on his home.

David L Ryan /Globe Staff

At the end of the day, the issues that are brought up by noir fiction, for lack of a better term, tend to be social issues I’m concerned with, and that’s what I return to time and again. It’s all haves versus have-nots kind of stuff.

[With World Gone By,] I wanted to bring it all home. I started [writing about Joe Coughlin] as a little boy. It’s like giving birth to something. I remember him running up the street and how he was dressed. With this story, which is in some ways a look at American labor and also a look at the American criminal underworld, [I got to ask]: What’s the finale? [It really returns] to a question that comes up in the first book, The Given Day. How do you define a family? Is it what you were born into or what you choose? That becomes a central theme of the three books, and it really comes to a head in this one.


[Growing up in Dorchester] was a real gift. There was a lot of negative to it, don’t get me wrong. Dorchester, when I grew up, was a really violent place; you can’t understand how much racial tension was there. It was a very rough time to grow up in a very rough part of the city, but I wouldn’t be a novelist without it. I wouldn’t be anything without it.

I will always keep a place in Boston, but I don’t think I’ll be pulling up stakes in California any time soon. I miss the attitude like crazy. I have people here say, “What are you angry about?” and I say, “I’m not angry. I’m from Boston.” I miss friends who are sending me pictures of all the snow. I was so jealous.


FOR MORE Lehane’s World Gone By will appear March 10. He’ll give free talks March 11 at 7 p.m. at Boston College (617-552-2203; and March 12 at 6 p.m. at the Boston Public Library (617-536-5400;

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