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Lush Life by Richard Price
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Lush Life (2008)

by Richard Price

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English (71)  French (3)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (76)
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Let me first off say that I don’t believe I’ve read anything this good in American literature in a long, long time. Do I have my own share of nits ‘n’ crits? Of course I do. But Richard Price’s prose is solid; Richard Price’s story-telling is solid; shit, even Richard Price’s writing mechanics are solid.

For starters, then, some nits ‘n’ crits….

The first few pages sounded rather derivative of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. From that point on, it was either NYC cop jargon or ghetto patois – neither of which I’m particularly up on, even if I’ve been a resident of Brooklyn, New York for the past twenty years.

My conclusion after the first hundred pages? If Richard Price is looking for a quick slam-dunk in Hippsterville (Williamsburg, Brooklyn), he’ll no doubt find it. ‘Problem is, the English-speaking world extends a bit beyond Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

I shudder to think of all of those folks elsewhere on the planet who noticed that this book was a New York Times Bestseller … and decided to invest their hard-earned yuan, euros or pesos in the hope of learning something – i.e., either what sells in America (and why), or how to write contemporary fiction.

I must confess, I can’t imagine translating this book even into Kansas-English, never mind into any other dialect outside the five boroughs of Metropolitan New York. It’s simply untranslatable. And yet … given that his writing mechanics are seemingly beyond reproach, I have to ask myself where this Bronx honky learned his nether-world vocabulary.

Let’s start with just a couple or three zingers….

On p. 68, “‘I don’t know,’ Eric shrugged. ‘Why does someone strike you as Irish rather than Italian?’

‘Because they’d rather drink than fuck,’ Yolanda said.”

Or on p. 290, “‘This kid ever had an original thought, it would die of loneliness.’”

And on p. 338, “‘Perception, reality, whatever. They’re not happy, and shit rolls downhill. They’re at the peak, I’m like mid-mountain, and you’re in this, this arroyo at the bottom. If I can be any more picturesque than that, let me know.’”

All of these excerpts are from dialogue. And while I don’t know enough to confirm or refute Michiko Kakutani’s (critic of The New York Times) assertion that "no one writes better dialogue than Richard Price – not Elmore Leonard, not David Mamet, not even David Chase,” what I can say is that Price’s dialogue is damned good!

And yes, Richard Price is indeed the scion of Raymond Chandler and Saul Bellow – and does them proud. As proof, I’d have you read pp. 151 – 156, Chapter Three (“First Bird – a Few Butterflies”) and/or pp. 451 – 455, Chapter Nine (“She’ll be Apples”). But don’t read Chapter Nine (the conclusion) and spoil it for yourself. First read pp. 1 – 450; then, decide for yourself.

By way of conclusion, I’ll risk saying that Richard Price’s prose is both exhilarating and exhausting. Find yourself a quiet corner in the library in which you can settle down and concentrate. You’ll need the corner -- and the quiet.


RRB
05/28/14
Brooklyn, NY

( )
  RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
Good description & dialogue, some pacing issues: I am an avid reader of mysteries, paranormal and romance, with a little so-called serious fiction and non-fiction thrown in. I tried, but couldn't get into this book, so I handed it over to my husband. He very much enjoys some sci-fi, but also loved, for example, the book Homicide: Life on the Street. Lush Life seemed more in that vein.

My husband definitely gave it 4 out of 5 stars. He said that the author certainly knows how to set a scene, the dialogue is spot on, and he can make you identify with the characters - even the ones you'd prefer not to identify with.

However, he found some problems with the pacing. I quote, "It's going along fine, and then, well, it's not." Apparently the great descriptions at some points will get in the way of the actual plot.

All in all, though, he would recommend it for fans of gritty street style novels.
  lonepalm | Feb 5, 2014 |
Brilliant but very harsh dialogue. Very fun to read. ( )
  jpackham | Dec 4, 2013 |
This is the first novel I read by Price. I would put this one on the level of No Country for Old Men. On its surface it's a standard police procedural, but we get a very real view into the lives of the cops in New York City. Everyone feels a little evil and a little good. ( )
  stacy_chambers | Aug 22, 2013 |
I thought this book read like an episode of the Wire, which makes sense since Price wrote for the tv series. I like the Wire, but I wasn't crazy about the book. I finished it, but I had a really hard time getting through the last 50 pages or so, which is unusual. I couldn't connect with any of the characters and there wasn't much of a plot. ( )
  sharwass | Apr 25, 2013 |
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As always, with love for
Judy, Annie, and Gen
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The Quality of Life Task Force: four sweatshirts in a bogus taxi set up on the corner of Clinton Street alongside the Williamsburg Bridge off-ramp to profile the incoming salmon run; their mantra: Dope, guns, overtime; their motto: Everyone's got something to lose.
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original title: Lush Life
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374299250, Hardcover)

Amazon Significant Seven, March 2008: No one has a better ear and eye for the American city than Richard Price, and in Lush Life, his first novel in five years, he leaves the fictional environs of Dempsy, New Jersey, where Clockers, Freedomland, and Samaritan were set, for a few crowded blocks of Manhattan's Lower East Side. There's a crime at the heart of the story, but you don't read Price for plot. Instead, you listen as he peels apart layers of class and history through the way his characters talk to each other: hipster bartenders who tell people they're really writers, homeboys from housing projects named after the Jewish immigrants who have long left the neighborhood, and cops, cops, cops, circling the streets looking for a collar, disappearing into their cases as their own lives go to ruin. --Tom Nissley

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:14 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In this first-rate police procedural, Eric Cash, the 34-year-old bartender at Cafe Berkmann and a would-be screenwriter, ends up in jail as a murder suspect and it's up to two New York City police detectives to find out the truth.

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