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 charactersClark'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.
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.
“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 playerscops, perps, victims, witnessesuntil 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 hookedyou 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