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Freedomland Paperback – November 29, 2005

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Editorial Reviews Review

Actor Joe Morton takes on all the roles of this audiocassette's multicultural cast of characters. His grasp of New Jersey accents, dialects, and inflections is flawless, imbuing all of Richard Price's carefully drawn characters with a gritty sense of authenticity. Morton's crisp, controlled narration propels the story forward with taut, edgy suspense. As he reads, he glides effortlessly from his role as narrator to those of the main characters. Single mother Brenda Martin speaks with a breathy, stammering, and truly fear-permeated voice, while the introspective African American detective, Lorenzo Council, has a clipped, businesslike manner of speaking. Morton takes equal care in bringing to life Price's minor characters, whether portraying a no-nonsense, white New Jersey housewife whose voice has been made coarse by too many cigarettes, or an African American Muslim preacher whose commanding bass voice isn't quite powerful enough to spur his community to action. Morton's greatest achievement, however, is his characterization of Council's jaded, middle-aged white partner, Bump. When Morton slips into the role of Bump, his growling, Jersified Brooklynese is so startling, it almost seems that a life-long resident of Hoboken has stepped into the recording studio and appropriated Morton's microphone. The recording is slightly marred by occasional intrusions of synthesized music that are, for the most part, superfluous and distracting, but Morton's acting abilities and vocal agility are more than sufficient to keep any listener riveted. (Running time: four hours, four cassettes) --Elizabeth Laskey --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers 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 white?here, 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, etc.) 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 vision?that 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. 125,000 first printing; $175,000 ad/promo; BOMC and QPB alternates; first serial to the New Yorker; film rights to Scott Rudin/Paramount for $2 million; simultaneous BDD audio; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Delta (November 29, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038533513X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385335133
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By B. McEwan VINE VOICE on March 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
I'm glad that I read this book, although there were a number of places where I felt that the author should have picked up the pace in order to maintain momentum and reader interest. While this novel is a crime drama, the fact that it deals with matters of race, trust and the elusive nature of truth makes it worthy of more consideration than the usual page turner.

I won't recount the plot, as an outline of the action is easily available elsewhere. I would like to single out a couple of passages, though, because they highlight the elegant prose that Richard Price is capable of and also struck a chord with me in that I have encountered similar situations in my own experience.

Take, for example, the opening of chapter 11, "The Dempsey County jail stood half demolished, and the only surviving section of exterior wall, the southwest corner, was a grotesquely defiant crumble of plaster and brick, a raised fist thrust into the flawless blue of a hot summer morning. The prison bars, running the entire length of the building but hidden from view for ninety years by a sooty gray facade, had now, in these final days, revealed the building for what it truly had been: a seven story cage."

The beauty of the writing, combined with the startling and rather violent imagery of the fist and the cage, made a strong impression on me and bore home the stark reality that jails are cages in which we shut up our fellows like animals, often when they are innocent. I have not read many other novels that are so evocative and at the same time hard hitting.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hmmmm....with all due respect, I think some of the other reviewers here are missing the point. You don't pick up a 700+ page novel and not gear up for a long read, and if you know Price at all, you know he's not your standard thriller writer (which is a good thing, believe me). I'm a little mystified by the Price fan that didn't like it though--seems like we were reading two different books. And why see the titles of soul music songs in the book as a tired racial comment rather than the product of a character's completely deranged mind? At any rate, I found Freedomland to be an astounding achievement, with beautifully drawn fully human characters, pitch-perfect dialogue, plenty of action and tension, and a bone-deep sadness beneath it that's miles away from the prickly optimism of Clockers. Unlike Price's recent excellent Samaritan, it's not emotionally claustrophic either--Freedomland is in fact a modern urban epic, rich in character, depth, and texture. This is a book I continually recommend to people who believe that commercial fiction can't stir the soul. I will grant that reading Freedomland can ultimately be an emotionally exhausting experience, but that is what I look for in books--to paraphrase Kafka (at least I think it was Kafka), a book should be the axe that breaks the frozen lake inside us. And Freedomland is a great big axe.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 29, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A lot's wrong with this overpraised book. It's too long, the story's conventional and slow-moving, it's predictable, the prose is awkward and reads too often like a screenplay, except when it tries to go inside the characters, and then it reads like a parody of every cliche police-story ever written: the hard-nosed female reporter without a social life, the black detective torn between his job and his community, the hot-headed white cop... the book's conflict, as concretized by the black detective Lorenzo, rests in questions of cultural, racial, and economic truth and honesty. Not unworthy subjects, but there's no blazing insights here, and the plot's so shopworn that the story provides no real tangential pleasures either. "Freedomland" is ultimately condescending and manipulative for no good reason. Its first hundred pages paint a compelling picture of Dempsey, and a few of the plot twists will play well in the movie. Producer Scott Rudin will undoubtedly make this a better movie than it is a book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most brilliant books I have ever read. Exhausting, draining, exhilarating, infuriating, it touches every emotion in the human psyche. Richard Price is obviously interested in characters, what motivates them, what can make a broken-down woman tell a calculated lie and send an entire city spinning into an inferno. Devastating moral lessons, compelling interactions between chracters of all racial biases and hidden agendas, and an intense, creeping momentum that sends you to the edge and beyond. Price is an exceptional storyteller, a Pat Conroy of the urban slumscape, with images that will stay with me long after the final chapter is read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 18, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like many of the others who have reviewed this book, I felt like it started out promisingly enough. It seemed like a nice, little ripped from the headlines drama with some open-ended observations about race and poverty and the enormous cultural and experiential divide that separates the haves from the have nots. But, apparently, that early promise was built on characters of sand, because they and their stories became a bit of an endless loop of shell-shocked realization and sweating inertia. If I were to give Price the benefit of the doubt I would say that his character's inability to act effectively, say anything succinctly or solve even the most basic of their own problems was a purposeful mirror held up to urban America. Hamlet-like, Price's characters wallow and writhe and go mad, and when they act, they do the wrong thing. Perhaps, he meant his character's sluggishness to be representative. Maybe he meant us to feel as trapped in the Armstrong Houses, in poverty, in addiction, in stupidity, in injustice as the characters who live there. If that was his intent, he definitely succeeded. At some point, however, it got to be too much. All the characters just allowed themselves to be buffeted about by circumstance until I felt like screaming. The character of the reporter, Jesse was the worst of the offenders. I found myself hoping that I would be provided front row seats to something really terrible happening to her. To sum up, I felt that this book had some structural problems. But, maybe this long road to nowhere is as good a metaphor for race relations in America as any other.
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