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Lush Life by Richard Price

Lush Life (2008)

by Richard Price

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Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
The plot crawls at the (realistic?) pace of a real life police investigation, which makes it tough to slog through 400+ pages for the following gem of a passage:

"'What does it take to survive here. Who survives. The, the already half-dead? The unconscious?...Do you survive because of what is in you? Or because of what isn't...'"

Adding to the reader's frustration is the existing knowledge of how the murder actually went down, since the author provides both the perpetrators' and investigators' perspectives throughout the story; the real mystery here is: will the cops ever figure out what happened? The best part of the book is the sense of place: the Lower East Side post September 11 as it starts to gentrify. ( )
  librarianarpita | Jun 10, 2015 |
An urban talke full of rhythm and life. ( )
  ccayne | May 31, 2015 |
Lush Life is not a crime novel. It is a novel about crime and the innumerable ways people can be criminals. It is, in particular, a story of fathers and sons. Every character … major, minor, and incidental … is fully and compassionately drawn, often through his or her own words. The dialog shines.

Here is the distraught father of a murdered son:
‘“You know,” Marcus said, addressing the middle distance, “when they’re little, you love them, take pride in them, and when they grow up, you still do, but it’s bizarre when other people, new people, see him and think, ‘Well, here’s this young man, here’s this young adult who does such and such very well,’ and you’re witnessing this acceptance from others, this respect and seriousness, and you, I can’t help laughing, thinking, that’s, WHAT young man, that’s Ikey, you wouldn’t believe the dopey shit he did as a kid, but there he is getting respect, and it’s not like I don’t have it for him, me of all people, but I always feel like laughing, not put-him-in-his-place laughing, just ‘Aw, c’mon, that’s Ike …”’’ pg. 137

Here is the intense Yemeni clerk of the Sana’a 24/7 mini-mart:
‘“Sometimes your father does things you don’t understand, but a father doesn’t need to explain all his actions to you,” Nazir said. “You need to have faith and trust that behind every act is love. Then later you look back or you sit quietly and it becomes clear that these things which seemed harsh at the time saved you. You were just too much a child to understand, but now you are a man with health and prosperity and all you can say is thank you.”’ pg. 186

And our homicide detective who, when first informed of the murder, is coming off a midnight to four a.m. free-lance security gig at a night-club:
‘He could let them handle the investigation until his tour began at eight or jump in now; Matty deciding to jump because the bar was so close to the crime scene he could see the fluttering yellow tape from where he stood. What would be the point of going home for only a few hours’ sleep?
‘Besides, his sons had come down for a few days to stay with him and he didn’t particularly like them.
‘There were two: the one he always thought of as the Big One, a jerk of a small-town cop in upstate Lake George, where his ex-wife had moved after the divorce, and the younger one, whom he naturally thought of as the Other One, a mute teen who had still been in diapers when they broke up.
‘He was at best an indifferent parent but didn’t know what to do about it; and the boys themselves were pretty conditioned to think of him as a distant relative down in New York City, some guy obliged by blood to let them crash now and then.’ pp 37-38
  maryoverton | Mar 22, 2015 |
My first Richard Price but won't be my last. I was mesmerized by the dialog and the relentless pacing. Truly exceptional. I couldn't put it down. ( )
  LeeFishman | Feb 24, 2015 |
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.

Brooklyn, NY

( )
  RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
Price is a builder, a drafter of vast blueprints, and though the Masonic keystone of his novel is a box-shaped N.Y.P.D. office, he stacks whole slabs of city on top of it and excavates colossal spaces beneath it. He doesn’t just present a slice of life, he piles life high and deep.
added by timtom | editNew York Times, Walter Kirn (Mar 16, 2008)
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:00 -0400)

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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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