Hubbub: Chuck Hogan

By Jason Schwartz | Boston Magazine |

ON SEPTEMBER 10 CHUCK HOGAN’S Charlestown-set bank heist novel, The Town, hits screens as Ben Affleck’s new thriller. The Canton native has come a long way since his early days as a writer, when, fresh out of Boston College, he worked the registerat the old Videosmith on Huntington Avenue. So why is it that the former video-store clerk still can’t get any respect from Hollywood?


This book is straight out of the Boston noir genre, right? It is, right. I call it “Boston No-R.” Get that? No-R.

I get that. Clever. I’m trying to copyright it or patent it, whatever.

At the beginning of the book, you have a disclaimer to the people of Charlestown, like, “Hey, this is about a few bad guys but I know that you’re not all terrible.” I just didn’t want to get my car windows broken. It’s a crime book through and through, but all of my grandparents either grew up or came through South Boston, which is so similar to Charlestown. It was important to me not to sully the name of Charlestown.

Now that it’s going to be a big movie, you might need to get double-reinforced windows. I was scheduled to do a reading at the Charlestown Public Library when the book first came out. A day or two before, I got a call from the librarians and they were like, “We just want to let you know, we’ve had some calls and there are some people who aren’t happy.” So I thought, Great. But we had a huge crowd. There’s a toast at the beginning of the book, which I read and got a standing ovation, my first ever. So I immediately read it again.

The book is set in the ’90s, so a lot’s changed — you talk about robbing BayBanks. But the one thing that’s the same is Tim Wakefield. You’ve got a riff on Tim Wakefield. It’s the same complaint, too, that they need to force him to retire.

So how did you find out they were going to do the movie? Did you get a call from Ben Affleck, or… No, they don’t do the Ed McMahon thing.

Affleck didn’t show up at your door with a giant check? Not with a giant anything. The book went through a number of different people… At some point, I heard that Ben Affleck was going to do it, but I thought, That can’t be. And then maybe six or eight months later, I was checking Variety online and it said something like, “Affleck moves to The Town.” I was like, “That sounds like my book.”

That’s like finding out you got traded from ESPN. Did you ever get to go on set? I did. During the last week of filming, when they were at Fenway Park. I had a friend who snuck me on set.

Wait, you had to sneak onto the set of your own movie? I wasn’t sure if I was going to be invited, and this stuff doesn’t happen every day. But then I did get legitimately invited.

Did they pick your brain at all? I had lunch with Ben and all we did was talk about the story, but it was already done by then. He had been living with it for almost two years. He didn’t need any help from me.

You’ve been able to screen the movie. What did you think? It was completely surreal, having dreamt it up so many years ago; my plan is to see it pretty much every night it’s out. I may never get another movie made, so I’ve got to soak it up while I can.

Do you get a ticket to the premiere? They are contractually obligated to invite me. I can’t wait.

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