Baltimore Author Celebrates Perry Hall Book Club Anniversary

Rafael Alvarez spoke about life in Baltimore at the Perry Hall Library.

The Perry Hall Library Book Club has discussed and debated dozens of books, but in celebration of its 10th year, members took it a step further—they met an author.

Rafael Alvarez, the former Baltimore Sun reporter who gained national acclaim as a contributing writer for HBO's "The Wire," spoke last week to library patrons. The book club anniversary celebration was combined with the Friends of the Perry Hall Library's ongoing speaker series.

"I don't know how many other book clubs have lasted for 10 years," said Michele Geis, a book club organizer. "We're very grateful to the Friends for making this happen. Normally, we don't get to meet an author." 

Alvarez has written extensively—in books, novellas, essays and articles—about Baltimore's history and his own life and experiences.

He reminisced about his first byline in City Paper when he was 19, and his later years at The Baltimore Sun, before moving on to television writing. He bragged about the Orioles winning season and joked about Baltimoreans' use of words like "pockybook."

"The single subject of my life's work has been the City of Baltimore," he said.

Alvarez downplayed the five years of his career spent in Los Angeles working on television scripts, including NBC's "Life."

"I had a taste of the Hollywood parties, but my mind was where I grew up," he said, adding, "I don't want my tombstone to say TV writer."

Before opening up to questions, he read one of his Baltimore Sun essays, "From Bay to Belly," about the life-cycle of a blue crab.

In addition to honoring the book club, the event honored the library itself, which Alvarez called a "fabulous facility."

Harry Quinn, a Friends board member, attributed the book club's success to its ability to evolve after moving from the smaller old library on Belair Road, to the larger state-of-the-art library on Honeygo Boulevard.

"I think the library has a heart in itself that attracts the community," Quinn said.

The next speaker series event features Ravens expert and football author John Eisenberg. He is expected to discuss his new book "Ten-Gallon War" on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.


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