Lush Life

( 56 )

Overview

A National Bestseller

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Lush Life is a tale of two Lower East Sides: one a high-priced bohemia, the other a home to hardship, it's 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 ...

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Overview

A National Bestseller

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Lush Life is a tale of two Lower East Sides: one a high-priced bohemia, the other a home to hardship, it's 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Mr. Price's most powerful and galvanic work yet, a novel that showcases his sympathy and his street cred and all his skills as a novelist and screenwriter . . . A visceral, heart-thumping portrait of New York City and some of its residents, complete with soundtrack, immortalized in this dazzling prosemovie of a novel."—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

 

"A big, powerful novel . . . Its real protagonist is the complicated, tragic, and endlessly fascinating American city street. . . . Outstanding."—Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly (Grade: A)

 

"His prose has never felt more fluid, his plotting is spry. . . . Price's ability to capture and reproduce the rhythm, tone, and evanescent vocabulary of urban life cannot be over-praised: 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

 

"Richard Price knows how crime sounds and smells, and he knows that it’s all tied up in race and class, two big subjects all too rare in American fiction. . . . Every sentence is a pleasure."—John H. Richardson, Esquire

 

“Price interrogates the players—cops, perps, victims, witnesses—until each one gives up a great human truth hidden in his seedy little soul."—Time

 

"Lush Life is lean, moving fast, and taking in large truths with a glance. . . . It's The Bonfire of the Vanities 2.0. Though Tom Wolfe's 1987 book remains one of the essential American novels, Lush Life is, in one way, the greater achievement."—Kyle Smith, The Wall Street Journal

 

"An astonishing new novel . . . Price has a black belt in dialogue, with a Ph.D. in capturing the deadpan humor that helps cops stay sane. Lush Life is a serious book, with serious points to make, but it’s also a wicked pleasure to read."—Adam Woog, The Seattle Times

 

"Richard Price is one hell of a raconteur ... opening any of his books means getting hooked—you turn the first page on the commute back from work and next thing you know, it’s 4am and you’ve polished off both the novel and an entire bag of Milanos."—Elisabeth Vincentelli, Time Out New York

"With LUSH LIFE Richard Price has become our post-modern American Balzac. Except that he's a whole lot funnier than Balzac and writes the language we hear and speak better than any novelist around, living or dead, American or French. He's a writer I hope my great-grandchildren will read, so they'll know what it was like to be truly alive in the early 21st century."  —Russell Banks

"This is it, folks. The novel about gentrified New York, circa right now, that we’ve been waiting for. Richard Price understands what's happened to our beloved city, he writes dialogue like a genius, and he absolutely, genuinely cares. Unforgettable." —Gary Shteyngart

 

“Richard Price is the greatest writer of dialogue, living or dead, this country has ever produced. Wry, profane, hilarious, and tragic, sometimes in a single line, Lush Life is his masterwork. I doubt anyone will write a novel this good for a long, long time.” —Dennis Lehane

 

“Price writes with the slightly manic desperation of someone determined to tell the absolute truth . . . This heightened, anxious awareness of moral and psychological complexity . . . is one of the accomplishments of first-rate writing.” —Francine Prose, The New York Times Book Review, on Freedomland

Walter Kirn
Raymond Chandler is peeping out from Price's skull, as well he should be, given such gloomy doings…one detects Saul Bellow's vision, too. 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. Time too.
—The New York Times Book Review
Stephen Amidon
…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…In the end, Lush Life is most effective as a study of sudden crime and its lingering aftermath.
—The Washington Post
Michiko Kakutani
The hard, daily slog of police work, made up not of highlight-reel discoveries and arrests, but of the grinding, old-school, shoe-leather following of leads; the glitter, aspirational energy and spiritual emptiness of the "Bohèmers'" world of swank bars and trendy restaurants; the narrow, unforgiving routine of life in the projects, where drug dealing seems like one of the few ways out of a future of small-time "mouse plays"—all these disparate worlds are captured by Mr. Price here with a pitch-perfect blend of swagger and compassion. He knows how these tectonic plates slide and crash up against one another, and he also knows how the six degrees of separation between his characters can instantly collapse into one, when a random act of violence or kindness brings players from these worlds together. He depicts his characters' daily lives with such energy, such nuance and such keen psychological radar that he makes it all come alive to the reader—a visceral, heart-thumping portrait of New York City and some of its residents, complete with soundtrack, immortalized in this dazzling prose movie of a novel.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

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.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Publishers Weekly

With a perfect ear for dialogue, Bobby Cannavale sounds like he grew up on the same patch of New York's Lower East Side that Price so effectively captures. It's a neighborhood in the midst of gentrification where an unplanned late-night murder of a truculent yuppie bartender by a teenage wannabe gangsta affects the lives of an assortment of disparate Manhattanites. Chief among them are Matty Clark, a dedicated and honorable detective, and Eric Cash, a restaurant manager temporarily accused of committing the crime. As Clark, Cannavale adds just the right mixture of weariness and frustration. He adds dimension and surprisingly subtle touches to all of Price's already rich characters—Clark's patently insincere superior officer, Cash's humane employer, a smarmy actor and, most importantly, the sad, angry, poetry-scribbling killer and the victim's omnipresent guilt-ridden, wraithlike father. Better yet, Cannavale delivers Price's sometimes mind-boggling slanguages (including cop-speak, Ebonics and a sort of restaurateur rap) as smoothly, effortlessly and clearly as an expertly trained Old Vic thespian interprets lines from the Bard. Simultaneous release with the FSG hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 21). (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Eric Cash, protagonist in this adaptation of Price's latest novel, is a man whose life in New York is not meeting his expectations. Aspiring actor, author, and restaurateur, Eric is a manager of a Manhattan restaurant in 2003 and at a personal dead end. Then one evening Eric joins Ike, a new bartender, for a round of after-work bar hopping. By the end of the night, Ike has been shot dead and Eric is the main suspect. The remainder of the work combines a standard police procedural with commentary on life in New York City during the first decade of the 21st century. The whodunit part of the book contains enough twists and turns to hold listeners' interest. More powerful are Price's descriptions of the different neighborhoods of Manhattan, making the city as much a character as any human in the story. Price also provides a fascinating array of people, running the social gamut from street hustlers to wannabe artists to the city's power elite. Reader Bobby Cannavale does an excellent job translating the tale from print to the spoken word, bringing the many characters to life. One of the better audiobooks produced recently, it is highly recommended for all audio collections. [Price shared a 2007 Edgar Award as cowriter of HBO's miniseries The Wire; Lush Life is also available as downloadable audio from Audible.com.-Ed.]
—Stephen L. Hupp

School Library Journal

Price (Samaritan) is an exceptionally accomplished storyteller whose ear for the accents of New York is the equal of the late, lamented George V. Higgins's love for Boston speech. And though what Price narrates often disturbs, it is just as often funny. A hood advises a young accomplice how to use a gun for the first time: "You just do it to get it done with, then you can start concentratin' on getting better at it, havin' fun with it." The novel starts with a killing, the consequence of a late-night robbery. The killing is almost accidental; an eyewitness exclaims, "It was like God snapped his fingers." Eric, a 35-year-old failed actor and writer, is paralyzed by guilt over his failure to stop the murder. The police, who find him highly suspicious, arrest him, and everything goes downhill from there. When the shooter is finally caught, he is a pathetic man-boy from the projects. Price's New York is a city that no longer works: too many people are left bruised, with no safety net. Strongly recommended for fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ11/15/07.]
—David Keymer Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Kirkus Reviews
The method employed by Dostoevsky in Crime and Punishment serves Price's purpose-and then some-in his wrenching eighth novel (Samaritan, 2003, etc.). This is the story of a NYC crime and its aftermath, focused on the perpetrators; the victims and their families; the cops who doggedly pursue the frailest threads of evidence and possibility; and the bustling, chaotic momentum of an ethnically mixed urban environment forever threatened by venality, violence and despair. It opens with a vivid cluster of parallel scenes, leading toward the early-morning incident that befalls restaurant manager Eric Cash (a wannabe actor/writer whose several careers are going nowhere) and two drinking companions, when two street punks with a gun make a demand and Eric's coworker Ike Marcus offers a smiling reply-and is gunned down. Eric's version of events raises justifiable suspicions, and shapes his subsequent baffled progress toward understanding himself. Veteran homicide cop Matty Clark and his soulful Latina partner Yolonda Bello hit the streets, while attempting to deflect and relieve the crushing sorrow that circumscribes Ike's dad Billy. And never-had-a-chance, virtually family-less teenager Tristan Acevedo channels his rage into fantasies of empowerment, composing inchoate, menacing "poetry," while struggling with his demons. Price offers a profane vernacular feast of raw dialogue. And as Matty and Yolonda (subordinating their embattled personal lives to the task at hand) draw nearer to the truth, Price tells their stories in a complex structure of juxtaposed scenes that ratchets up the tension. The only thing even close to a flaw in this book is its plot's surface resemblance to that of Clockers. Butthis time Price digs deeper, and the pain is sharper. There oughta be a law requiring Richard Price to publish more frequently. Because nobody does it better. Really. No time, no way.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312428228
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 3/3/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 150,708
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Price

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 miniseries The Wire.

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

Prologue

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.

“Is dead tonight.”

The four car-stops so far this evening have been washouts: three municipals—a postal inspector, a transit clerk, and a garbageman, all city employees off-limits—and one guy who did have a six-inch blade under his seat, but no spring-release.

A station wagon coming off the bridge pulls abreast of them at the Delancey Street light, the driver a tall, gray, long-nosed man sporting a tweed jacket and Cuffney cap.

“The Quiet Man,” Geohagan murmurs.

“That’ll do, pig,” Scharf adds.

Lugo, Daley, Geohagan, Scharf; Bayside, New Dorp, Freeport, Pelham Bay, all in their thirties, which, at this late hour, made them some of the oldest white men on the Lower East Side.

Forty minutes without a nibble . . .

Restless, they finally pull out to honeycomb the narrow streets for an hour of endless tight right turns: falafel joint, jazz joint, gyro joint, corner. Schoolyard, crêperie, realtor, corner. Tenement, tenement,

tenement museum, corner. Pink Pony, Blind Tiger, muffin boutique, corner. Sex shop, tea shop, synagogue, corner. Boulangerie, bar, hat boutique, corner. Iglesia, gelateria, matzo shop, corner. Bollywood, Buddha, botanica, corner. Leather outlet, leather outlet, leather outlet, corner. Bar, school, bar, school, People’s Park, corner. Tyson mural, Celia Cruz mural, Lady Di mural, corner. Bling shop, barbershop, car service, corner. And then finally, on a sooty stretch of Eldridge, something with potential: a weary-faced Fujianese in a thin Members Only windbreaker, cigarette hanging, plastic bags dangling from crooked fingers like full waterbuckets, trudging up the dark, narrow street followed by a limping black kid half a block behind.

“What do you think?” Lugo taking a poll via the rearview. “Hunting for his Chinaman?”

“That’s who I’d do,” Scharf says.

“Guy looks beat. Probably just finished up his week.”

“That’d be a nice score too. Payday Friday, pulled your eighty-four hours, walking home with what, four? Four fifty?”

“Could be his whole roll on him if he doesn’t use banks.”

“C’mon, kid”—the taxi lagging behind its prey, all three parties in a half-block stagger—“it doesn’t get better than this.”

“Actually, Benny Yee in Community Outreach? He says the Fooks finally know not to do that anymore, keep it all on them.”

“Yeah, OK, they don’t do that anymore.”

“Should we tell the kid? He probably hasn’t even heard of Benny Yee.”

“I don’t want to come between a young man and his dreams,” Lugo says.

“There he goes, there he goes . . .”

“Forget it, he just made us,” Daley says as the kid abruptly loses his limp and turns east, back towards the projects, or the subways, or, like them, to simply take five, then get back in the game.

Right turn after right turn after right, so many that when they finally pull someone over, and they will, it’ll take a minute to get their legs under them, to stop leaning into their steps; so many right turns that at three in the morning, six beers deep at Grouchie’s, everybody silently, angrily watching the one lucky bastard getting a lap ride in a banquette by the bathrooms, they’ll be canting to the right at the bar, then, later in bed, twitching to the right in their dreams.

At the corner of Houston and Chrystie, a cherry-red Denali pulls up alongside them, three overdressed women in the backseat, the driver alone up front and wearing sunglasses.

The passenger-side window glides down. “Officers, where the Howard Johnson hotel at around here . . .”

“Straight ahead three blocks on the far corner,” Lugo offers.

“Thank you.”

“What’s with the midnight shades?” Daley asks from the shotgun seat, leaning forward past Lugo to make eye contact.

“I got photosensitivity,” the guy answers, tapping his frames.

The window glides back up and he shoots east on Houston.

“Did he call us officers?”

“It’s that stupid flattop of yours.”

“It’s that fuckin’ tractor hat of yours.”

“I gots photosensitivity . . .”

A moment later they’re rolling past the Howard Johnson’s themselves, watching as the guy from the Denali makes like a coachman, holding the door for all the ladies filing out from the backseat.

“Huggy Bear,” Lugo mumbles.

“Who the fuck puts a Howard Johnson’s down here?” Scharf gestures to the seedy-looking chain hotel, its neighbors an ancient knishery and a Seventh-Day Adventist church whose aluminum cross is superimposed over a stone-carved Star of David. “What was the thinking behind that.”

“Twenty-eight flavors,” Lugo says. “My dad used to take me every Sunday after my game.”

“You’re talking the ice cream parlor,” Scharf says, “that’s different.”

“I never had a dad,” says Geohagan.

“You want one of mine?” Daley turns in his seat. “I had three.”

“I can only dream of a dad who’d take me to a Howard Johnson’s after my game.”

“Hey, Sonny.” Lugo catches Geohagan’s eye in the rearview. “Later tonight, you want to have a catch with me?”

“Sure, mister.”

“Pokey as fuck out here, huh?” says Daley.

“That’s because it’s your turn to collar,” Lugo says, waving off some drunk who thinks he’s just flagged down a taxi.

“Somebody up there hates me.”

“Hang on . . .” Scharf abruptly perks up, his head on a swivel. “That there looks good. High beams going west, four bodies.”

“Going west?” Lugo floors it in heavy traffic. “Think thin, girls,” as he takes the driver-side wheels up onto the concrete divider to get past a real cab waiting for the light, then whips into a U-turn to get abreast of the target car, peering in. “Females, two mommies, two kids,” passing them, hungrier now, all of them, then Scharf ahoying once again: “Green Honda, going east.”

“Now east, he says.” Lugo does another 180 and pulls behind the Honda.

“What do we got . . .”

“Two males in the front.”

“What do we got . . .”

“Neon trim on the plate.”

“Tinted windows.”

“Right rear taillight.”

“Front passenger just stuffed something under the seat.”

“Thank you.” Lugo hits the misery lights, climbs up the Honda’s back, the driver taking half a block to pull over.

Daley and Lugo slowly walk up on either side of the car, cross-beam the front seats.

The driver, a young green-eyed Latino, rolls down his window. “Officer, what I do?”

Lugo rests his crossed arms on the open window as if it’s a backyard fence. “License and registration, please?”

“For real, what I do?”

“You always drive like that?” His voice almost gentle.

“Like what?”

“Signaling lane changes, all road-courteous and shit.”

“Excuse me?”

“C’mon, nobody does that unless they’re nervous about something.”

“Well I was.”

“Nervous?”

“You was following me.”

“A cab was following you?”

“Yeah, OK, a cab.” Passing over his papers. “All serious, Officer, and no disrespect intended, maybe I can learn something here, but what did I do?”

“Primary, you have neon trim on your plates.”

“Hey, I didn’t put it there. This my sister’s whip.”

“Secondary, your windows are too dark.”

“I told her about that.”

“Tertiary, you crossed a solid yellow.”

“To get around a double-parked car.”

“Quadrary, you’re sitting by a hydrant.”

“That’s ’cause you just pulled me over.”

Lugo takes a moment to assess the level of mouth he’s getting.

As a rule he is soft-spoken, leaning in to the driver’s window to conversate, to explain, his expression baggy with patience, going eye to eye as if to make sure what he’s explicating here is being digested, seemingly deaf to the obligatory sputtering, the misdemeanors of verbal abuse, but . . . if the driver says that one thing, goes one word over some invisible line, then without any change of expression, without any warning signs except maybe a slow straightening up, a sad/disgusted looking off, he steps back, reaches for the door handle, and the world as they knew it, is no more.

But this kid isn’t too bad.

“This is for your own benefit. Get out of the car, please?”

As Lugo escorts the driver to the rear bumpers, Daley leans into the shotgun-seat window and tilts his chin at the passenger, this second kid sitting there affecting comatosity, heavy-lidded under a too big baseball cap and staring straight ahead as if they were still driving somewhere.

“So what’s your story?” Daley says, opening the passenger door,

offering this one some sidewalk too, as Geohagan, all tatted out in Celtic braids, knots, and crosses leans in to search the glove com-

partment, the cup caddy, the tape storage bin, Scharf taking the rear seats.

Back at the rear bumpers, the driver stands in a scarecrow T looking off soul-eyed as Lugo, squinting through his own cigarette smoke, fingerwalks his pockets, coming up with a fat roll of twenties.

“This a lot of cheddar, cuz,” counting it, then stuffing it in the kid’s shirt pocket before continuing the patdown.

“Yeah, well, that’s my college tuition money.”

“What the fuck college takes cash?” Lugo laughs, then finished, gestures to the bumper. “Have a seat.”

“Burke Technical in the Bronx? It’s new.”

“And they take cash?”

“Money’s money.”

“True dat.” Lugo shrugs, just waiting out the car search. “So what’s your major?”

“Furniture management?”

“You ever been locked up before?”

“C’mon, man, my uncle’s like a detective in the Bronx.”

“Like a detective?”

“No. A detective. He just retired.”

“Oh yeah? What precinct?”

“I don’t know per se. The Sixty-ninth?”

“The fighting Sixty-ninth,” Geohagan calls out, feeling under the passenger seat now.

“There is no Sixty-ninth,” Lugo says, flicking his butt into the gutter.

“Sixty-something. I said I wasn’t sure.”

“What’s his name.”

“Rodriguez?”

“Rodriguez in the Bronx? That narrows it down. What’s his first name?”

“Narcisso?”

“Don’t know him.”

“Had a big retirement party?”

“Sorry.”

“I been thinking of trying out for the Police Academy myself.”

“Oh yeah? That’s great.”

“Donnie.” Geohagan backs out of the passenger door, holds up a Zip-loc of weed.

“Because we need more fuckin’ smokehounds.”

The kid closes his eyes, tilts his chin to the stars, to the moon over Delancey.

“His or yours.” Lugo gestures to the other kid on the sidewalk, face still blank as a mask, his pockets strewn over the car hood. “Somebody needs to say or you both go.”

“Mine,” the driver finally mutters.

“Turn around, please?”

“Oh man, you gonna lock me up for that?”

“Hey, two seconds ago you stepped up like a man. Stay with that.”

Lugo cuffs him then turns him forward again, holding him at arm’s length as if to assess his outfit for the evening. “Anything else in there? Tell us now or we’ll rip that shitbox to shreds.”

“Damn, man, I barely had that.”

“All right then, just relax,” guiding him back down to the bumper as the search continues nonetheless.

The kid looks off, shakes his head, mutters, “Sorry ass.”

“Excuse me?”

“Nah, I’m just saying”—pursing his mouth in self-disgust—“not about you. ”

Geohagan comes back with the baggie, hands it over.

“OK, look.” Lugo lights another cigarette, takes a long first drag. “This? We could give a fuck. We’re out here on a higher calling.” He nods at a passing patrol car, something the driver said making him laugh. “You know what I’m saying?”

“More serious shit?”

“There you go.”

“That’s all I got.”

“I’m not taking about what you got. I’m talking about what you know.”

“What I know?”

“You know what I’m saying.”

They both turn and look off in the direction of the East River, two guys having a moment, one with his hands behind his back.

Finally, the kid exhales heavily. “Well, I can tell you where a weed spot is.”

“You’re kidding me, right?” Lugo rears back. “I’ll tell you where a weed spot is. I’ll tell you where fifty is. I can get you better shit than this for half what you paid seven days a week with blindfolds on.”

The kid sighs, tries not to look at the barely curious locals coming out of the Banco de Ponce ATM center and the Dunkin’ Donuts, the college kids hopping in and out of taxis.

“C’mon. Do right by me, I’ll do right by you.” Lugo absently tosses the baggie from hand to hand, drops it, picks it up.

“Do right like how?”

“I want a gun.”

“A what? I don’t know a gun.”

“You don’t have to know a gun. But you know someone who knows someone, right?”

“Aw, man . . . ”

“For starters, you know who you bought this shit from, right?”

“I don’t know any guns, man. You got forty dollars a weed there. I paid for it with my own money, ’cause it helps me relax, helps me party. Everybody I know is like, go to work, go to school, get high. That’s it.”

“Huh . . . so like, there’s no one you could call, say, ‘Yo, I just got jacked in the PJs. I need me a onetime whistle, can I meet you at such and such?’ ”

“A whistle?”

Lugo makes a finger gun.

“You mean a hammer?”

“A hammer, a whistle . . . ” Lugo turns away and tightens his ponytail.

“Pfff . . .” The kid looks off, then, “I know a knife.”

Lugo laughs. “My mother has a knife.”

“This one’s used.”

“Forget it.” Then, chin-tilting to the other kid: “What about your sidekick there.”

“My cousin? He’s like half-retarded.”

“How about the other half?”

“Aw, c’mon.” The driver lolls his head like a cow.

Another patrol car rolls up, this one to pick up the prisoner.

“All right, just think about it, OK?” Lugo says. “I’ll see you back in holding in a few hours.”

“What about my car?”

“Gilbert Grape there, he’s got a license?”

“His brother does.”

“Well then tell him to call his brother and get his ass down here before you wind up towed.”

“Damn.” Then calling out: “Raymond! You hear that?”

The cousin nods but makes no move to retrieve his cell phone from the car hood.

“So you never answered my question,” Lugo says, skull-steering him into the rear of the cruiser. “You ever been locked up before?”

The kid turns his head away, murmurs something.

“It’s OK, you can tell me.”

“I said, ‘Yes.’ ”

“For?”

The kid shrugs, embarrassed, says, “This.”

“Yeah? Around here?”

“Uh-huh.”

“How long back?”

“On Christmas Eve.”

“On Christmas Eve for this?” Lugo winces. “That is cold. Who the hell would . . . You remember who collared you?”

“Uh-huh,” the kid mutters, then looks Lugo in the face. “You.”

An hour later, with the kid on ice back at the Eighth, good for another hour or two’s worth of gun-wrangling, which would probably go nowhere, and a few more hours’ worth of processing for Daley, the arresting officer, Daley good and taken care of, they were out again looking to get one for Scharf, a last-call drive-around before settling on one of the local parks for an if-all-else-fails post-midnight curfew rip.

Turning south off Houston onto Ludlow for the fiftieth time that night, Daley sensed something in the chain-link shadows below Katz’s Deli, nothing he could put his finger on, but . . . “Donnie, go around.”

Lugo whipped the taxi in a four-block square: Ludlow to Stanton, to Essex, to Houston, creeping left onto Ludlow again, just past Katz’s, only to come abreast of a parked car full of slouched-down plainclothes from Borough Narcotics, the driver eyeballing them out of there: This is our fishing hole.

Excerpted from Lush Life by Richard Price. Copyright © 2008 by Richard Price. Published in March 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 56 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(16)

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(12)

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(6)

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(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 56 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 22, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The title and cover attracted me first!

    Lush Life...great title! Good versus evil in the city life...murder...seeking truth....Interesting characters and lingo. Richard Price either did his homework or he grew up in the bad end of a city! I very much enjoyed the read.....Another book I enjoyed before this one that isn't anything like this except the good versus evil part...EXPLOSION IN PARIS, by L.M. Pirrung...REALLY LOVED THIS ONE...More of a woman's book....

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Another tour de force from Price

    Anyone who's lived in New York and moved away retains a corner of his heart for the city. I had to love this book if only because it described the lower east side where I once lived. That aside, the book is brilliant. The dialog and characters are so real that you can almost hear their voices. It's not a thriller: there are no chase scenes, just real cops and real criminals. Read it.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2008

    A Great Read On Any Level

    This book is a meditation on good and evil, the sacred and the secular, and tradition versus modernity -- all dressed up as a police procedural. It is remarkable that Price is able to develop his themes, his characters, and his plot line and at the same time create a driving narrative that is so deeply involving. Many of Price's characters are so vivid that they continue to live in the reader's mind well after the book has been read. One deliberate exception is a hazy God/Satan who ultimately consigns another character to Hell (Atlantic City). Buy this book! It is a pleasure to read on any level.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2008

    Very satisfying

    The reader knows in the first few chapters what happened. The fascinating part of this book is the effect the event has on the life of each character.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2009

    very NYC

    New twist on the detective genre. Great main character. Lots of good NYC flavor.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Lush Reading

    This book lives up to its reviews. Plot and characters fully formed and a compelling read. The only thing I had a bit of trouble with was the cop lingo but that did not deter from my enjoyment of this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2008

    A reviewer

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. Richard Price takes the reader step-by-step into the multi-layered lives and circumstances of his characters.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Lush Life

    My first Richard Price novel was Clockers, a novel that would end up becoming one of my favorite books of all time. Lush Life is the second work of his that I read, and like his 1992 classic, Lush Life is an incredible work of fiction. Price is great at telling a great story while showing the reader how hoods, cops, and other New Yorkers live. Price created a lot of great characters but his greatest strength is his dialogue. Price is up there with the greatest writers of dialogue: Quentin Tarantino, David Mamet, George Pelecanos, the writing staff of The Wire (which Price and Pelecanos are a part of), Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy, Coen brothers, etc. Lush Life is an amazing novel and I wouldn't be surprised if I re-read it in the future.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    its strength was also its weakness

    Richard Price's Lush Life is not a 60 minute tv drama moving rapidly toward getting the bad guy. Instead it's much more real life. Read that to mean slow and plodding. To me the most likeable character is New York City and neither the good guys nor the bad guys are all knights in shining armor or Black Barts. They are all human beings with human foibles. Lush Life is too real to be escapism. This isn't some beach read or long flight read. But for real urban nitty gritty you can't do better than this. Just don't expect to be cheered up.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2010

    Gripping

    This is a gripping novel. I felt like I was there with the characters as the story unfolded. Some of the descriptive terms are hauntingly beautiful even though the story is gritty. Five stars for this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A terrific read.

    This is surprisingly readable for a literary novel. Maybe because I'm from a big city, but I relate the the characters, time and place. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2008

    Not quite as good as I first thought

    Price doesn't control the main concepts with the same refinement as his dialogue and characterization. It's a good delivery, but it gets engulfed with unimportant situations and I went a little bit cool after about halfway.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2009

    Life in the city?

    Gritty and depressing -- didn't care for any of the characters or the setting.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 26, 2010

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    Posted January 3, 2009

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    Posted January 6, 2010

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    Posted September 9, 2010

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    Posted January 12, 2010

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    Posted June 13, 2009

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    Posted October 30, 2008

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