Found a sobering, fascinating blog on the LA Times site today called The Homicide Report. written mostly by blogger/reporter Ruben Vives, with contributions from Jill Leovy. It catalogs every single homicide in LA County, along with victim's age, occupation, race, family, and the particulars known about the death. Click on a sidebar and they'll tell you why they report the race of the victims - because race is a huge factor in whether you will die via homicide. Black men make up 4% of the population in Los Angeles, but they are far and away the most numerous victims of homicide. Other statistics are available if you look around and click, including a homicide map of LA, which shows that the area south of the 10 Freeway is much more dangerous than the area north of it.
The story at the top of the page today when I clicked showed a photo of a young black football player, shot to death by two Latino youths when he failed to tell them any gang affiliation. Click on the comments, and you'll see everything from political commentary to condolences.
Each death suggests a longer life cut off too soon. Each suggests a story, a character, or a dreadful moment. It's the real life stuff that trumps fiction every time, and leads a writer to wonder how the earnest lies we write can ever illuminate the truth out there.