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Lush Lifeby Richard Price
It's a given that fans of Price's earlier novels will rush to read Lush Life. In addition, fans of the HBO series The Wire — or anyone who enjoys a gripping read, period — won't want to miss this fantastic novel, which peels back the shiny surface of the new-and-improved New York to find not only the grime lurking (and working) beneath, but also its rich, multifaceted history. In typical Price fashion, the characters are compelling, the dialogue so rich you want to act it out loud, and the plot is irresistible.
Richard Price is a professional. His genius is in, among other things, the vernacular — he does his research and he knows his lingo. Overall, this is a top-notch New York cop novel: the scenes are tight; the plot is well crafted; and the characters come to life.
"[A] vivid study of contemporary urban landscape. Price's knowledge of his Lower East Side locale is positively synoptic, from his take on its tenements, haunted by the ghosts of the Jewish dead and now crammed with poor Asian laborers, to the posh clubs and restaurants, where those inclined can drink 'a bottle of $250 Johnnie Walker Blue Label' or catch 'a midnight puppet porno show.'" Stephen Amidon, The Washington Post Book World (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)
"Lush Life is a good, worthwhile, and in many ways satisfying novel. No matter how routinely and highly praised it may be, Price's ear for dialogue, his ability to capture and reproduce the rhythm, tone, and evanescent vocabulary of urban life, cannot be overpraised: with all due respect to Elmore Leonard, Price is our best, one of the best writers of dialogue in the history of American literature." Michael Chabon, The New York Review of Books (read the entire New York Review of Books review)
Synopses & Reviews
Lush Life is a tale of two Lower East Sides: one a high-priced bohemia, the other a home to hardship, its residents pushed to the edges of their time-honored turf. When a cocky young hipster is shot to death by a street kid from the "other" Lower East Side, the crime ripples through every stratum of the city in this brilliant and kaleidiscopic portrait of the "new" New York.
"Master of the Bronx and Jersey projects, Price (Clockers) turns his unrelenting eye on Manhattan's Lower East Side in this manic crescendo of a novel that explores the repercussions of a seemingly random shooting. When bartender Ike Marcus is shot to death after barhopping with friends, NYPD Det. Matty Clark and his team first focus on restaurant manager and struggling writer Eric Cash, who claims the group was accosted by would-be muggers, despite eyewitnesses saying otherwise. As Matty grills Eric on the still-hazy details of the shooting, Price steps back and follows the lives of the alleged shooters — teenagers Tristan Acevedo and Little Dap Williams, who live in a nearby housing project — as well as Ike's grieving father, Billy, who hounds the police even as leads dwindle. As the intersecting narratives hurtle toward a climax that's both expected and shocking, Price peels back the layers of his characters and the neighborhood until all is laid bare. With its perfect dialogue and attention to the smallest detail, Price's latest reminds readers why he's one of the masters of American urban crime fiction. Author tour. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Richard Price's new novel is set in 2002 in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a neighborhood that is not so much a melting pot as a cauldron of volatile elements that can be set off with the slightest spark. Among its uneasy mix of gentrifying yuppies, Chinese immigrants and beleaguered Latino and African-American residents, the peace is kept by the NYPD, whose Quality of Life Task Force implements... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) the city's zero tolerance ethos under the motto 'Everyone's got something to lose.' In the electrifying opening chapters of 'Lush Life,' one person turns out to have everything to lose: Ike Marcus, a young white bartender at a swank local restaurant. After a long night of drinking, Ike, a would-be writer, is gunned down when he answers a mugger's demand for his wallet by saying, 'Not tonight, my man.' (A detective wryly refers to this sort of bravado as 'Suicide by mouth.') Accompanying Ike were two other East Village scenesters, an aspiring actor named Steven Boulware, who survives the attack apparently because he was falling-down drunk, and Eric Cash, the manager at Ike's restaurant. Eric, whose frustrated literary ambitions have left him saddled with an 'unsatisfied yearning for validation,' provides the police with the initial account of the crime, claiming to have escaped Ike's fate because he turned over his wallet. His testimony is sufficiently sketchy to raise the suspicion of Matty Clark and Yolonda Bello, two veteran detectives who catch the case. Eyewitnesses also challenge Eric's account. In a gripping interrogation sequence, Yolonda and Matty slowly wear down the stunned witness, ultimately accusing him of killing the younger man in a burst of booze-fueled envy. Eric is so unnerved by their going-over that he can only respond by doing 'something that genuinely shocked Matty. With his mouth locked in a rictus grin, he rose to his feet and extended his wrists.' It would seem to be an open-and-shut case, but this is Richard Price, who in novels such as 'Clockers' and 'Freedomland' has shown himself to be more interested in exploring the complex social and psychological ramifications of crime than in simply cuffing the perps. Soon after Eric's arrest, Boulware wakes from his blackout to tell a tale of his own, while the eyewitnesses who implicated Eric in the crime turn out to be less than reliable. After keeping the reader in the dark for the first third of the book, Price reveals the truth of the matter, transforming his narrative from a whodunit into a police procedural where the mystery is not what happened, but what will happen next. It is a move that keeps 'Lush Life' from achieving the gut-churning power promised in those fine opening chapters. Perhaps if Price had not dangled the prospect of a mystery before us, his decision to abandon it so early would not have produced the sense of deflation that ultimately pervades the book. That said, 'Lush Life' remains a vivid study of contemporary urban landscape. Price's knowledge of his Lower East Side locale is positively synoptic, from his take on its tenements, haunted by the ghosts of the Jewish dead and now crammed with poor Asian laborers, to the posh clubs and restaurants, where those inclined can drink 'a bottle of $250 Johnnie Walker Blue Label' or catch 'a midnight puppet porno show.' In this 'Candyland of a neighborhood,' where kids from all over the nation come to 'walk around starring in the movie of their lives,' it is hardly surprising that an ambitious suburban boy believes he can front up to armed muggers and live to write a treatment about it. Price's ear for dialogue is equally sharp. When a young student who witnessed the murder expresses shock that the detective interviewing her can quote T.S. Eliot, the beleaguered cop deadpans that 'the apes that raised me were surprisingly intelligent.' Officer Lugo, a member of the Quality of Life Task Force, explains to a just-arrested drug addict that he will cut him some slack only if the suspect gives up another criminal. 'We keep wanting to help you out, man. ... But it's a two-way river.' When another suspect complains to Lugo that his sidekick is 'like half-retarded,' the cop immediately wonders: 'How about the other half?' In the end, 'Lush Life' is most effective as a study of sudden crime and its lingering aftermath. Price depicts the corrosive effect of Ike's murder upon his family, particularly his father Billy Marcus, who lurches between anger and depression as he searches for some sort of redemption, never understanding that 'there would be no relief for him from that grinding sense of anticipation he'd carried in his gut for the last few days, that no matter what came down the line, what measures of justice were ultimately portioned out, what memorials or scholarship funds established, whatever new children would come into his life, he would always carry in himself that grueling sensation of waiting: for a tranquil heart, for his son to stop messing around and reappear, for his own death.' Near the book's end, Billy forms a surprising emotional connection with the unsentimental Matty, who uses Billy's grief as inspiration to reach out to his own estranged sons. In this most diverse of neighborhoods, Price suggests that violence and the sorrow it creates are the only sure ways to bring people together. Stephen Amidon's most recent novel is 'Human Capital.'" Reviewed by Stephen Amidon, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"The method employed by Dostoevsky in Crime and Punishment serves Price's purpose — and then some — in his wrenching eighth novel....There oughta be a law requiring Richard Price to publish more frequently. Because nobody does it better. Really. No time, no way." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Price's investigation is no mere police procedural, scouring away layers of self-defense in all of his vividly drawn characters. Such is his talent that we care about them all equally....
"No one writes better dialogue than Richard Price....
"Reading Lush Life...is a lot like watching a great movie, with the author as director and cameraman....Price's people talk with the flair and rhythms of real speech...giving his books a soundtrack you hear as much as read." Hartford Courant
"A compelling urban drama....The book, which doesn't lag for even a sentence, is a dialogue-driven, thoroughly riveting examination of how an investigation unfolds and the emotional toll it takes on everyone involved." The Miami Herald
"Lush Life is vivid, authentic, beautiful and rugged....If you don't know Price yet, this book is a great entry. You'll leave the space most authors occupy and move into the realm of masterpiece." Paste Magazine
At an esteemed American college an illicit romance leads to tragedy in Robert Stone's most compelling novel since the bestselling Damascus Gate.
“Robert Stone is a vastly intelligent and entertaining writer, a divinely troubled holy terror ever in pursuit of an absconded God and His purported love. Stones superb work with its gallery of remarkable characters is further enhanced here by his repellently smug professor, Steve Brookman, and the black-haired girls hopelessly grieving father, Eddie Stack." — Joy Williams
In an elite college in a once-decaying New England city, Steven Brookman has come to a decision. A brilliant but careless professor, he has determined that for the sake of his marriage, and his soul, he must extract himself from his relationship with Maud Stack, his electrifying student, whose papers are always late and too long yet always incandescent. But Maud is a young woman whose passions are not easily contained or curtailed, and their union will quickly yield tragic and far-reaching consequences.
As in Robert Stones most acclaimed novels, here he conjures a complex moral universe where nothing is black and white, even if the characters—always complicated, always compelling—wish it were. The stakes of Brookman and Mauds relationship prove higher than either one could have anticipated, pitting individuals against one another and against the institutions meant to protect them.
Death of the Black-Haired Girl is a powerful tale of infidelity, accountability, the allure of youth, the promise of absolution, and the notion that madness is everywhere, in plain sight.
A New York Times Book Review Editors Choice
“Fast-paced [and] riveting . . . Stone is one of our transcendently great American novelists.” — Madison Smartt Bell
“Brilliant.” — Washington Post
At an elite college in a once-decaying New England city, Steven Brookman has come to a decision. A brilliant but careless professor, he has determined that for the sake of his marriage, and his soul, he must end his relationship with Maud Stack, his electrifying student, whose papers are always late yet always incandescent. But Maud is a young woman whose passions are not easily curtailed, and their union will quickly yield tragic and far-reaching consequences.
Death of the Black-Haired Girl is an irresistible tale of infidelity, accountability, the allure of youth, the promise of absolution, and the notion that madness is everywhere, in plain sight.
“At once unsparing and generous in its vision of humanity, by turns propulsive and poetic, Death of the Black-Haired Girl is wise, brave, and beautifully just.” — Boston Globe
“Unsettling and tightly wrought—and a worthy cautionary tale about capital-C consequences.” — Entertainment Weekly
“A taut, forceful, lacerating novel, full of beautifully crafted language.” — Los Angeles Review of Books
About the Author
Richard Price is the author of seven novels, including Clockers and Freedomland. He has received an Academy Award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and shared a 2007 Edgar Award as a cowriter of HBO's series The Wire.
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