Freedomland

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Overview

In 1998, Richard Price returned to the gritty urban landscape of his national bestseller Clockers to produce Freedomland, a searing and unforgettable novel about a hijacked car, a missing child, and an embattled neighborhood polarized by racism, distrust, and accusation.  Freedomland hit bestseller lists from coast to coast, including those of the Boston Globe, USA Today and Los Angeles Times; garnered universally rave reviews; and was selected as the Grand Prize Winner of the Imus American Book Award ...

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Overview

In 1998, Richard Price returned to the gritty urban landscape of his national bestseller Clockers to produce Freedomland, a searing and unforgettable novel about a hijacked car, a missing child, and an embattled neighborhood polarized by racism, distrust, and accusation.  Freedomland hit bestseller lists from coast to coast, including those of the Boston Globe, USA Today and Los Angeles Times; garnered universally rave reviews; and was selected as the Grand Prize Winner of the Imus American Book Award and as a New York Times Notable Book.  On May 11, this highly lauded bestseller is available in paperback for the first time.

A white woman, her hands gashed and bloody, stumbles into an inner-city emergency room and announces that she has just been carjacked by a black man. But then comes the horrifying twist: Her young son was asleep in the back seat, and he has now disappeared into the night.

So begins Richard Price's electrifying new novel, a tale set on the same turf—Dempsey, New Jersey—as Clockers. Assigned to investigate the case of Brenda Martin's missing child is detective Lorenzo Council, a local son of the very housing project targeted as the scene of the crime. Under a white-hot media glare, Lorenzo launches an all-out search for the abducted boy, even as he quietly explores a different possibility: Does Brenda Martin know a lot more about her son's disappearance than she's admitting?

Right behind Lorenzo is Jesse Haus, an ambitious young reporter from the city's evening paper. Almost immediately, Jesse suspects Brenda of hiding something. Relentlessly, she works her way into the distraught mother's fragile world, befriending her even as she looks for the chance to break the biggest story of her career.

As the search for the alleged carjacker intensifies, so does the simmering racial tension between Dempsey and its mostly white neighbor, Gannon. And when the Gannon police arrest a black man from Dempsey and declare him a suspect, the animosity between the two cities threatens to boil over into violence. With the media swarming and the mood turning increasingly ugly, Lorenzo must take desperate measures to get to the bottom of Brenda Martin's story.

At once a suspenseful mystery and a brilliant portrait of two cities locked in a death-grip of explosive rage, Freedomland reveals the heart of the urban American experience—dislocated, furious, yearning—as never before. Richard Price has created a vibrant, gut-wrenching masterpiece whose images will remain long after the final, devastating pages.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Richard Price and his work:

"Chilling—We have come to expect many rewards from Price's work, yet none of his previous novels have quite prepared us for the force of sympathy he is able to generate—in Freedomland."
The New York Times Book Review

"An enormous achievement—Freedomland is Bonfire of the Vanities without the laughs, New Jersey as the ninth circle of hell, and in the end everyone burns."
—Stephen King

"Richard Price is America's Dickens—. It is the rare novelist who doesn't just embellish the evening news but reimagines it in the context of his own America."
Los Angeles Times

"[Price] is a writer with uncommon brains, heart and nerve."
The Seattle Times

"A tour de force of character and plot—Freedomland teems with such dead-on detail and briny authenticity that its language must have been inspired by stairwell eavesdropping."
- People

"A big, cinemascope thriller, a novel that captures the racial politics and media madness of the Age of O.J., a novel that transforms today's headlines into a forceful, harrowing drama....a terrific read...Price has written his most powerful novel yet."
—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

"Price shows that he's got the best equipment a novelist can have—that combination of muscularity, insight, and compassion we might call heart."
—Washington Post Book World

"Price pressure cooks the city down to its dense, searing essentials."
—Village Voice Literary Supplement

"Powerful...harrowing...a drama of quite remarkable complexity."
—the New York Times on Clockers

"Clockers is a great piece of work."
—Tom Wolfe

Newsday
Vivid, unnerving...Brings us perilously close to the street life we usually roll up our windows to avoid.
NY Review of Books
Price is a prodigiously gifted writer who thinks big and can also burrow far inside his characters.
Francine Prose
For all its grabby suspense and startling disclosures, Freedomland is infinitely more than a detective story. Despite its hipness, its up-to-the-moment street jive and cops-and-robbers jargon, it aspires to the heft and weight of a 19th-century Russian classic. It has that same capacity to shake up our unexamined assumptions about sin and forgiveness. In fact, Freedomland suggests some version of the novel that might have resulted if Anna Karenina had been hit by the train before the book began, and her wounded, restless ghost had returned from another world to haunt us, to make us look at ourselves and think a hundred times before we cast that first stone. -- The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set in the same blasted New Jersey ghetto as his much-admired Clockers 1992, Price's first novel since that bestseller is less a sequel than a monumental complement played in minor key, a re-visitation by an author who's older, sadder, wiser. The story flows from an event drawn from headlines: Brenda Martin, a white woman, staggers bleeding into a hospital to claim that her car has been hijacked by a black man with her four-year-old son in the backseat. The jacking allegedly occurred in the park that divides the largely black city of Dempsey from the white-dominated city of Gannon. In response, Gannon cops seal off and invade D-Town, inflaming racial tensions and attracting an army of media. As in Clockers, Price again scans urban life through two protagonists, one black, one whitehere, black Dempsey cop Lorenzo Council and white local reporter Jesse Haus. As both draw close to grief-crazed Brenda, one question propels the narrative: Is she telling the truth? The answer and its violent aftermath are equally inevitable, as Price snares the surface and the substance of America caught in a slow-motion riot of racial rage. His language is street-fresh, his dialogue as if eavesdropped; his characters are soulful, flawed, dead real. Price's experience as a screenwriter The Color of Money shows in the predictable dramatic arc of his tale, but the novel is no less powerful for its popular bent. Within its structural confines, the story line veers in unexpected directions, with each detour bringing readers closer to Price's ultimate visionthat our nation's hope lies not in social movements but in the flame of humaneness that flickers in each of us, cop and criminal, black and white.
Library Journal
Price hits another homerun with this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Clockers, set in the fictional city of Dempsy, NJ, a place that bears both spiritual and geographical similarities to Jersey City, NJ. At the tale's vortex is Brenda Martin, a fragile, white single mother who was apparently pulled from her car by a black male while driving through Dempsy's Armstrong housing project. When a hysterical Brenda blurts out that her four-year-old son was asleep in the back seat at the time of the carjacking, a swarm of reporters, cops, and the curious descend on Dempsy. With cops from neighboring Gannon Brenda's hometown aggressively laying seige to Armstrong, Dempsy detective Lorenzo Council, himself an Armstrong product, must negotiate a political and social minefield as racial animosities between Dempsy and Gannon threaten to explode. Price's characters are, as usual, dead-on, and the his eye for unflinchingly capturing humans at their very be stand very worst is unrivaled.-- Mark Annichiarico
Library Journal
Price hits another home run with this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Clockers, set in the fictional city of Dempsy, NJ, a place that bears both spiritual and geographical similarities to Jersey City, NJ. At the tale's vortex is Brenda Martin, a fragile, white single mother who was apparently pulled from her car by a black male while driving through Dempsy's Armstrong housing project. When a hysterical Brenda blurts out that her four-year-old son was asleep in the back seat at the time of the carjacking, a swarm of reporters, cops, and the curious descend on Dempsy. With cops from neighboring Gannon Brenda's hometown aggressively laying seige to Armstrong, Dempsy detective Lorenzo Council, himself an Armstrong product, must negotiate a political and social minefield as racial animosities between Dempsy and Gannon threaten to explode. Price's characters are, as usual, dead-on, and the his eye for unflinchingly capturing humans at their very be stand very worst is unrivaled. Highly recommended. Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"
David Nicholson
A great novel, one to restore your faith in the power of language and of fiction. -- The Washington Post
David Jones
A great novel, one to restore your faith in the power of language and of fiction. -- The Washington Post
Thom Jones
Astonishing... events burn the pages like white heat... to pull off such a triumph is the mark of a truly great writer. -- Mirabella
Tom DeHaven
Engrossing and memorable...Price writes with such energy and vernacular. -- Entertainment Weekly
Don Waller
Price's diamond-cut dialogue shines... [with] rippling muscular prose. -- USA Today
Karen Durbin
A terrific storyteller, [Price creates] novels so furiously alive and rich with character and incident that you devour them like thrillers. It's only afterward that their subtlety and scope become fully apparent. -- Elle Magazine
Kirkus Reviews
Another grimly convincing portrayal of inner-city despair from the multitalented author of such literate powerhouses as Bloodbrothers(1976) and Clockers(1992). The story's set, like Clockers, in the New Jersey hellhole of Dempsy, just across the Hudson from New York City, where welfare families, crackheads, and miscellaneous crazies jostle against one another in an ongoing state of simmering crisis punctuated by daily explosions of violence. When a traumatized single white mother, Brenda Martin, reports her car hijacked and her four-year-old son, asleep in the backseat, inadvertently kidnaped by a black man, veteran (black) detective Lorenzo Council and (white) newspaper reporter Jesse Haus are drawn deeply into the twin maelstroms of an already volatile populace further aroused by racial tension and their own separate suspicions about the veracity of Brenda's harrowing story. Again, as in Clockers, Price juxtaposes his two protagonists' experiences in a crisp and authoritative sequence of scenes that comprise a virtual primer on urban perils and survival skills; his cops are credibly exhausted and embittered, and his street people both defiantly savvy and long-suffering (only Karen Collucci, who spearheads a neighborhood "group that searches for missing children," seems slightly overdrawn). Price renders with great power his characters' mingled emotions of loss, fear, fury, and regret, and his punchy, forthright style nicely accommodates inventive metaphors (at a crime scene, "the media settlement [resembled] a nineteenth century military encampment. The electronic gear hung on the fence like cartridge belts and canteens"). The novel (whose title denotes arundown "theme park" where crucial climactic events occur) is both generously plotted and honestly attentive to the screwed-up lives of these marvelously realized people. Lorenzo is a triumph, and the embattled, defeated Brenda Martin a fascinatingly complex figure.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440226444
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 736
  • Product dimensions: 4.26 (w) x 6.86 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Price

Richard Price is the author of five previous novels; the most recent, Clockers, was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has also written numerous screenplays, including Sea of Love, Ransom and The Color of Money, for which he received an Academy Award nomination. His work has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times and Esquire, and he has taught fiction writing at Yale, NYU and Columbia. He and his family live in Manhattan.

Biography

In a 1981 essay he wrote for The New York Times entitled "The Fonzie of Literature," Bronx-born Richard Price sums up the origin of his rep as a streetwise scribe:

"I doubt that if I had written about the suburbs I would have attracted nearly as much attention. I found most interviewers and reviewers more than willing to romanticize my background, to make it sound like I had come out of Hell's Kitchen or an Odyssey House. I spent three hours being interviewed by People magazine, insisting that I was not Piri Thomas or Claude Brown, I was a middle-class Jewish kid who went to three colleges. But when the issue hit the stands, the leadoff of the one-paragraph squib was, 'Richard Price comes from the slum-stricken streets and paved playgrounds of the Bronx.'"

So while he may not be the hardened thug that critics seem to want to believe he is, his string of bestselling novels and hit screenplays are filled with enough urban wit and grit to garner him commercial and critical—if not street—cred.

After graduating from Cornell in 1971, Price broke out of the Bronx with The Wanderers in 1974, when he was 24 and in the process of earning an M.F.A. from Columbia. A series of hard-boiled vignettes about a teenage gang coming up in the 1960s that Price scribbled in his spare time, the collection was whisked off to a literary agent by the head of Columbia's writing program, and Price's debut found a publisher. In 1979, Orion released a major motion picture based on the book. A sort of "anti-Grease," The Wanderers noticeably lacked the nostalgic bubblegum bounce of other coming-of-age novels and flicks of its day, and touched off Price's reputation for being unafraid to expose the dark side of Americana.

Two more acclaimed novels would follow—I>Bloodbrothers (1976) and Ladies' Man (1978)—but soon an out-of-control cocaine habit plunged Price into a creative and personal abyss. "I wasn't even that big of a doper," he recalled to Salon.com. "I was definitely bush league. But enough that it sort of preoccupied me for three years."

Hollywood proved to be the sunny savior Price needed to help him climb out of the funk. By the mid-'80s, he had become a top screenwriter with a roster of hits to his credit, including the The Color of Money (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award), Sea of Love, Ransom, and Mad Dog and Glory. "[Screenwriting] kept me in the writing game, and it also showed me I was able to write about things that were not connected to my autobiography," he told Salon.

In 1994, Price returned to fiction with the novel Clockers—a gritty depiction of crack trafficking in the fictional city of Dempsy, New Jersey, a Dantean hell of crime and urban blight. (Adapted into a film by Spike Lee, Clockers would earn Price another Academy Award nomination for screenwriting.) Since then, he has revisited Dempsy in blockbusters like Freedomland and Samaritan, garnering praise for his unblinkered view of inner-city life and his pitch-perfect ear for street talk. A writer's writer, Price counts among his many admirers such distinguished novelists as Russell Banks, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, Elmore Leonard, and Stephen King. But in a 2003 interview, he confessed that the greatest validation he ever received came from his teenage daughter who read Samaritan and told him he was "really good!" Says Price, "Of course I want The New York Times to sing my praises, but she's my kid."

Good To Know

Price lives in New York City with his wife, downtown artist Judy Hudson, and their two daughters.

The inspiration for his novel Freedomland came from the infamous case of Susan Smith—a woman who admitted to murdering her own children after initially reporting a fictional carjacking.

A former cocaine addict, Price occasionally volunteers his time to speak about the dangers of drugs to high school students.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 12, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bronx, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Cornell University, 1971; M.F.A., Columbia University

Read an Excerpt

The Convoy brothers, hanging in the soupy stifle of the One Building breezeway, were probably the first to spot her, and the spectral sight seemed to have frozen them in postures of alert curiosity--Caprice, sprawled down low in a rusted dinette chair, his head poked through the makeshift bib of a discarded shower curtain, and Eric, standing behind him, four fingers stalled knuckle-deep in a wide-mouthed jar of hairbraiding oil.

She was a thin white woman, marching up the steep incline from the Hurley Street end of the projects, appearing head first, like the mast of a sailing ship rounding the curve of the earth, revealing more of herself with each quick, stiff step across the ruptured asphalt oval that centered the Henry T. Armstrong Houses. That sloped and broken arena, informally known as the Bowl, was usually barren, but tonight it lay planted with dozens of new refrigerators awaiting installation, resting on their backs in open crates like a moonstruck sea of coffins.

"Where she goin'." Eric said mildly.

The woman was carrying one arm palm up, cradled in the other like a baby.

Caprice leaned forward in the chair. "Bitch on a mission," he said, laughing.

"Huh," Eric grunted, faint, tentative. It was a quarter past nine in the evening, the grounds mostly deserted because of the rally being held at the community center to solve the double homicide of Mother Barrett and her brother. But despite being in the wrong place at the wrong time, this white lady didn't seem right for a fiend--wasn't looking at them, looking for them. In fact, she was ignoring them, coming off neither dope-hungry nor afraid, just taking those brisk little steps and glaring atthe ground in front of her with an expression somewhere between angry and stunned.

Tariq Wilkins, scowling in the swelter of this end-of-June Monday evening, came hunkering out of One Building, his hands crossed and buried in the armpits of his Devils jersey.

"That meeting over yet?" he drawled. He took in the still-lit windows of the community center, made a clucking noise of annoyance.

Tariq, like Eric and Caprice and just about everybody else, knew who had killed the two old people exactly one year ago to the day. But also like everybody else, he was keeping it to himself, because what goes around comes around.

"Look like a cemetery out there," Tariq said, gesturing to the mute field of refrigerators. Then he spotted her climbing the asphalt Bowl and reared back. "Daq . . ." His mouth hung open, his hands moving to the back pockets of his hang-dog jeans.

She wore dungarees with fresh dirt stains at the knees and a black T-shirt sporting the naggy legend IT TAKES A WEAK MAN TO DISRESPECT THE STRONG WOMAN WHO RAISED HIM. Her hair was shoulder-length and lank, her face pale and thin. She had no lips to speak of, but her eyes-- the building-mounted anti-crime spotlights picked them up as a startling electric gray, like a husky's, so light and wide as to suggest trance or blindness.

She came within conversational distance of them, and Tariq stepped parallel, sizing her up. "What you lookin' for. . ." he said. Then, just as Eric snagged his sleeve and pulled him back, he caught the reflection of something both bloody and glittering in her upturned palm.

Without so much as a hitch in her stride, the woman sailed right past them and was gone--out of the Henry T. Armstrong Houses, the heart of that section of the city given the side-mouthed tags Darktown, D-Town, and into the world.

"What you be pulling on me. . ." Tariq snapped, without any real heat, jerking his elbow high to free himself from Eric's grip.

Eric didn't answer, just got back to working on his brother's head. A withdrawn silence came down on all three of them now, each having caught sight of that cupped bloody dazzle, each of them pulling in, as if to be alone with his abrupt and mystifying discomfort.


The woman marched through the city of Dempsy on a determined diagonal, with the same pinched yet rapid stride with which she had climbed the Bowl, up and out of the Armstrong Houses. Cradling her arm, she tramped through red lights and green, the traffic next to nothing at this hour of the workweek. She walked through the parking lot of a Kansas Fried Chicken and across a deserted basketball court named after a local projects kid turned pro, the sodium lights casting her shadow to the Powell Houses behind the backboard. She marched across the diamond of a Little League field resting atop a fifty-year-old chromium dump, her face sullen yet tremulous, her light eyes fixed on the ground in front of her.

The fashion wave rippling through Darktown that summer was fat strips of metallic reflector tape slapped on jeans, sneakers, and shirts. As she approached the dingy yellow sizzle of JFK Boulevard--all storefront churches, smoke shops, and abandoned businesses--the agitated boredom, of the dope crews brought the street corners alive with restless zips of light.

A patrol car slowed to profile her as she passed under a crude mural of a fetus with a crucifix sprouting from its navel. She raised her eyes, opened her mouth, and took a step in the car's direction. "Give a saliva test to this one here," the driver murmured to his partner. But then she seemed to change her mind, quickly giving the cruiser her back and evaporating into a side street.

In a few more minutes she was striding across another ball field, this one also atop an old chromium dump, and then she was facing the Dempsy Medical Center, vast, Gothic, and half shut down, the emergency room entrance shedding the only eye-level light before the city hit the river. She finally came to a halt just outside the cone-shaped perimeter cast before the entrance like a spotlight on a bare stage.

She hesitated on the edge of the pale, one foot in, one out, her face taking on a sparkle of panic as she eyed the full-up benches of the waiting room through the gummy glass of the automatic doors. For a moment she froze but then seemed to get a grip, decisively rolling off to her left, turning the corner of the building, and descending to a more shadowed entrance at the bottom of a ramp. Walking through a partially raised roll-down gate, she stepped inside an empty, garishly lit room, the silence and stillness such that the buzzing of a fluorescent desk lamp could be heard twenty feet away.

At first, as if disoriented by a sense of trespass, she appeared not to notice the overweight young black man on the gurney directly across the room from her. Once she caught sight of him she seemed unable to look away. He was barefoot but otherwise fully dressed--dead, the fatty tissue billowing out from the box-cutter slash under his chin like a greasy yellow beard. She stared at the pale-skinned soles of his feet as if hypnotized by this hidden whiteness, stood there staring until a stainless-steel freezer door opened directly across from her. A yellow-eyed middle-aged man in a hooded parka came into the room, instantly rearing back from her presence.

"You a relative?" he asked, removing his coat. His eyes rose to something directly over her head.

She looked up to see a digital readout blinking "115," then down to see that she was standing on a gurney-sized weighing platform set into the floor. When she looked back at the morgue attendant his eyes were on her hands.

"You in the wrong wing."


Standing by the nurses station that fronted the medical center's ER, the security guard, a goateed, nose-ringed kid tricked out in a uniform like a full-bird colonel, eavesdropped on an overnatty detective. He was on the phone to report a shots-fired situation--one dead Rottweiler, the shooter getting his face resewn in one of the trauma rooms. "A good shooting. Just thought you needed to know." Twenty feet down the corridor a sad-faced Pakistani leaned patiently against the wall, a bloody bath towel around his head, his ear in an ice-filled Ziploc bag.

There was an abrupt rapping against the glass doors of the ambulance bay, and the guard turned to see the woman outside, trying to push her way in. His mouth in a twist, he brusquely signaled her to walk around to the main entrance, then resumed watching the free show in the hallways, zeroing in on a mush-mouthed drunk reclining, fully dressed, on a slant-parked gurney. The guy lay casually on his side, propped up on an elbow like a Roman senator, his head resting on the palm of his hand. Earlier in the evening, the story went, he had bitten down on a shot glass and added a three-inch extension to one side of his smile.

"I'm a alcoholic," the drunk said, having caught the guard's eye. "I got me a big problem with that. Not a little problem, a big problem. A goddamn Shop Rite-sized problem. I ain't gonna lie about it."

The guard snorted and turned his attention to a bored correction officer on escort duty. He was doing half-assed push-ups against the wall while waiting for his charge to get the rest of his thumbnail removed.

A nurse's aide, a round, bespectacled, almost elderly black woman with a bemused set to her mouth, slapped a blood-pressure cuff on the drunk.

"I need me something for the pain. I told you that, right?"

"Right."

"I got to get some Percocets or something 'cause I cannot stand pain and I got to get to work at 6:00 a.m. in the morning."

"Yeah? What do you do." The nurse smirked.

"You don't want to know."

"Well, I hope you don't drive no school bus."

"Mommy, I got me a forty-thousand-dollar car, cash paid. I'm telling you, you don't want to know."

"You don't want to know," the nurse said, mocking him. "I cannot stand pain," she added mincingly. "You want to know about pain, you have yourself a baby, then come talk to me about pain."

"Hey, I had six--"

"No, you."

"Well, I was in the vicinity."

The security guard, laughing now, hands behind his back, took a spacey 360-degree spin on one heel, then came alert with irritation as that lady outside the ambulance entrance renewed her rapping on the door. He began to wave her around again but saw the blood smearing the glass and what looked like a palm full of jewels pressed against the pane.


The ambulance bay doors were opened by remote to let a uniformed cop out, and suddenly the woman was in the house.

Eyes unfocused, teeth chattering, she floated down the hall, ignoring the irritated shout "Miss! Miss! Excuse me," a reproachful singsong from the nurses station.

She wandered down the hallway, past the examination rooms--surgery, trauma, medical, X ray--then, as if remembering something, abruptly wheeled around, inadvertently stepping into the startled embrace of the goateed security guard.

"You got to go out to triage just like everybody else," the kid lectured awkwardly, wincing at the sight of her uptumed palms, the things growing there. He steered her back past the nurses station to the dented, paint-chipped double doors that led to the waiting room. She went willingly at first but then suddenly, with an expression of disgust, twisted out of his grasp. Her supported arm fell from its cradle, the hand hanging from the wrist like a dead goose.

An East Indian doctor, petite, slender, and almost prim in his self-possession, strolled down the hallway eating a sandwich. His face registered a look of grudging interest as he noticed the floppiness of the hand.

"What happened to you," he asked flatly, between bites, taking in the glassy dislocation of her eyes, the labored workings of her chest. His identification tag read "Anil Chatterjee."

"He threw me down. I couldn't even get the words out." Her voice was smoky and deep, vibrating with a kind of retroactive panic.

"Down where." He lifted her limp hand, gently felt the outer wrist bones.

She ignored the question, her head jerking like a bird's.

"What happened to you."

Still no response.

He gave his sandwich to the security guard and took both her hands. Her palms were embedded with shards of glass, clear and beer-bottle green, bits of gravel, some rusted wedges of tin, sharp fragments of various colored plastic, and in one hand a fine, small coil of metal, the inner spring of a cheap ballpoint pen--all of it implanted in the red-and-blue rawness of abraded flesh.

"I want you to answer my question," he said sternly. "What happened to you."

"He threw me out of the car . . ." Suddenly she stomped her foot like a child, her voice soaring. "I couldn't get the words out! He didn't give me a chance! I tried, I swear to God!"

"Threw you out. Was the car moving?" Chatterjee gripped her above the wrists to prevent her from flailing and complicating the damage.

She turned away, her face bunching, tears popping like glass beads.

Casually bypassing the screening drill, he walked her directly to the surgery room, escorting her in an awkward sideways scuttle, still holding her in that double-handed grip. The guard followed tentatively with the doctor's sandwich.

The surgery room was crowded, the floor sticky, littered with torn gauze wrappers. Along the walls, patients sat quietly. A frazzled doctor with a Russian accent held a bouquet of MRIs, CAT scans, and X rays to his chest and read out names, mail-call-style.

"Salazar?"

No answer.

"Vega?"

Two men, both wearing blood-drizzled shirts, cautiously raised their hands, then, noticing each other, simultaneously lowered them.

Chatterjee sat her on a backless stool and took her pulse, which was racing like a hummingbird. He strapped a blood pressure cuff on her arm, holding himself still. Ninety over seventy. The blood was probably somewhere in her feet at this point.

"I need to know what happened to you. I cannot treat you if I don't know what happened to you," he said, locking his eyes into hers, staring into that dazzling lupine gray.

She looked away again, exhaling in graduated shudders, trying.

"I was lost," she began, in that smoky, stunned vibrato. "He said . . . he said he could help me get through the park. The guy, he didn't . . ." Her voice fluttered away. "He didn't even--I got out of the car, OK? He didn't even let me get a word out. He threw me down." She looked off, clenching her teeth.

"Were you raped?"

She balled her impaled palms into white knots, blood dripping. Chatterjee quickly backed away to save his pants, then, leaning forward from a safe distance, forcibly pried her fingers open again. The security guard placed the doctor's sandwich on a stack of X rays and left the room.

"Listen to me. I speak six different languages. Just answer in human range. Were you raped."

The triage nurse, a woman in her fifties with frosted red hair and a giant button reading "#1 NANA" pinned under her collar, slipped in behind Chatterjee. She held an admissions form on a clipboard. The doctor waited for an answer as the young woman looked at both of them with a pleading muteness. His gaze compulsively returning to those eyes, he nudged her stool with his knee, moving it along on its casters to a sink. He worked on a pair of latex gloves, then took one of her palms and began to wash it gently.

"Listen to me. I'm going to tell you something to calm you
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I'm in awe of this writer.

    I picked up "Lush Life" in the library and fell in love with this writer. I had to get more and more! I just finished this novel and it moved me even beyond the others I've read. It's as if he reaches in and grabs the still beating hearts of his characters and shows them to you with all of their rawness and beauty and stench. I read another review by a reader who got caught up in the "truth" of what a real journalist does. What about the truth of these peoples feelings and their confusions? What about the way they are just trying to stumble through their human flawed existence and do what they can? Some more effective than others. Price really brings out all the painful details of race and hows its influenced by individuals and institutions. But even more than that he speaks to the soul of what it means to be human; defined by nature and searching for nurture.

    I love how as a writer he starts out in these wide circles that grow ever tighter and smaller,as a spiral, until by the end you find yourself face to face with yourself.

    ok...blah blah blah....read the book and see for yourself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 10, 2011

    Awesome

    If you are looking for a book that will take more than a week to read this is the one for you.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2008

    One of the all-time best books I've ever read

    I absolutely loved this book. I read it years ago and can still feel the heart-wrenching pain of the main character. I continue to recommend this book to anyone who will listen. I cannot believe the negative reviews- what are they missing?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2006

    Should've consulted a reporter

    Once again, Price displays a great sense of place, realistic, gritty dialogue and patient pacing. However, his portrayal of the reporter is off in so many ways. Granted, this is a little personal -- me being a journalist and all. But it showed me Price -- who should have the time -- didn't do his homework, and that cost the book credibility. First of all, an evening paper does NOT have a five-o-clock deadline (The paper comes OUT at five, right?). Besides, there are probably about two evening papers left in this country, and they each have a circulation of about 150. While I'm at it, daily reporters on a big story NEVER publish the story a week after the news. I could go on about more inaccuracies, but it would probably bore the non-journalist. Come on, Richard. if you'd at least consulted one reporter, he or she would've steered you right. Don't big time authors do a ton of research? And -- while I'm on my soap box here -- the overzealous reporter who'll stomp on anyone to get the story is cliche, cliche, cliche. Can we please stop villainizing the press? It's a lazy tactic more becoming of a rookie writer. Why not just throw in a sleezy defense attorney while you're at it? Or how about a bureaucratic justice system that lets bad guys out of prison on a technicality? To those who like to equate the media with demons, remember: We need someone to question authority. My final complaint is that the story did drag on a little at the end. Overall, it's a decent read but not nearly as consistent as Price's 'Clockers' or 'Ladies Man.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2006

    Take Me To Freedomland

    The white woman walks into the hospital, her hands dripping with blood. What she tells the hospital staff ignites what is to be the start of a racial war between neighbourhoods in downtown New Jersey. Armstrong¿s Police Officer, Lorenzo Council is called in to investigate the claims of Brenda Martin ¿ that a black man carjacked her and drove off with her four year old son asleep in the backseat. Soon, the people are in an uproar as the white infested Gannon sends their police force to pick on the residents of Armstrong, while the latter retaliates with disdainful shouts of ` ¿all cause of that White B....'s kiddd?¿ Amidst the pandemonium, Lorenzo is desperate to solve the case of the missing boy, especially when it becomes palpable that Brenda Martin was not revealing the truth and that she knew more than she let on. With pressure coming from all sides, Lorenzo is forced to enlist the help of the Friends of Kent, a group formed by feisty housewives whose main cause was to locate missing children, to spend some time with Brenda ¿ and what they discover may cause even more violence and disarray to two neighbourhoods already sitting on a time bomb. Freedomland is a heavy thriller with provocative character study but it lacked one crucial element ¿ a good and gripping story. Readers might find it frustrating to flip through unnecessary pages on subjects that were irrelevant to the main plot as author has the tendency to go off tangent. Said author should pick up the pace in order to maintain momentum as he runs the risk of losing readers¿ interest with his ramblings. However, author Price has the gift of eradicating any falseness from the way the characters talked to the way they move and think. For those with the mental stamina to persevere through the inner city cockledoodledoos, you will find a satisfying read in the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2006

    OK, but somewhat overhyped

    After reading the critics' reviews of this book, I was really anticipating the story. However, I found it quite difficult to read. It was an interesting story with complex characters, but I found the beginning incredibly slow and kind of boring. And while the characters were complex, I never really felt connected with them. I agree with another reviewer here in that it felt like an episode of Law & Order. I was not shocked by anything in this book. As well, the overall theme was so bleak and hopeless (which I guess is purposeful), but it really turned me off.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 1999

    Slice of current innercity

    You can really feel the tension build in this story. The dialogue and phrases are dead on. Also the story is similar to recent unfortunate events.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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