Synopses & Reviews
These hard-hitting, deeply felt stories trace men — straight arrows and outlaws, have-it-alls and outcasts — as they take stock of their lives and missteps and struggle to rise above their troubled pasts. A salesman considers his tenuous relationship with his sister after she has been brutally attacked. A house painter looks forward to moving his family out of their seedy neighborhood as he plans his last bank robbery. A drifter finds a chance at love when he delivers news of a barfly's death to the man's estranged daughter.
These are hard-boiled tales of life on the edge in a city where the sun hurts your eyes and dreams die more often than they come true. Full of heart and heartbreak, Dead Boys is the debut of an astonishingly talented new writer.
"'Set in a Southern California of smoky skies and Neil Young tunes, Lange's fine debut collection takes the so-called normal guy husband, father, working stiff and throws a heap of trouble at him. 'Bank of America' is the completely believable tale of a regular 'John Q,' a house painter who also happens to rob banks with a small-time team of hustlers while still being a good father and husband to his unsuspecting family. 'Long Lost' follows a tentative young husband and reluctant proofreader as he copes with the sudden appearance of a boisterous, angry, ex-con half-brother, courtesy of his neglectful father's second wife. In 'Culver City,' named after a southeast neighborhood of L.A. where 'we're all between jobs or between marriages, between runs of good luck,' the narrator's desperately unhappy waitress girlfriend Shelly hopes the compromising pictures of a famous actor that she steals at a party can fetch a price to change her luck and solidify their relationship. A considered, colloquial understatement marks nearly all of the first-person protagonists over the course of these 12 stories, in a manner that's marvelously effective. Lange's characters are well-intentioned screwups, deeply flawed and utterly convincing.' " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The best debut collection we have read all year....you could shelve Lange between Denis Johnson, Richard Ford, and Richard Yates, and no fights would break out....Lange writes with tremendous heart, his characters' inner turmoil as rich and varied as any of the above masters. Dead Boys, we think, will live for a very long time." E! Online, Tod Goldberg
"Superlative short fiction, and an arresting debut." Kirkus Reviews
"Stylistically brilliant, painfully and truly observed and rendered, Dead Boys is not just one of the best collections thus far this decade: Dead Boys is one of the best short story collections of the past 50 years, right up there with Barry Hannah's Airships, Chris Offutt's Kentucky Straight, James Baldwin's Going to Meet the Man and Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man Is Hard to Find." Eric Miles Williamson, San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
Richard Lange's stories have appeared in StoryQuarterly
, The Sun
, The Iowa Review
and Best American Mystery Stories 2004
. He lives in Los Angeles