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Dead Boys: Stories Paperback – October 1, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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In the dozen heartbreaking stories collected here, Lange homes in on a group of twentysomething slackers living in the markedly less-prosperous suburbs of L.A. These bereft young men don't seem to suffer so much from a lack of ambition as from a surfeit of emotion. Frayed nerves and broken hearts have kept them from realizing even the smallest of dreams; they're always "between jobs or between marriages, between runs of good luck." In the title story, the nameless narrator is beset by a host of worries—he thinks his wife is having an affair and that one of his office colleagues is about to commit suicide. Little wonder, then, that he can barely keep his mind on his job—pushing a new brand of yogurt. The yawning divide between his sterile work environment and his chaotic emotions prompts him to remark, "I'm full to bursting and empty at the same time." Lange's slice-of-life scenarios, emotionally wrecked characters, and piercingly funny dialogue make for a powerful combination that recalls the work of Thomas McGuane and Denis Johnson. Wilkinson, Joanne --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Richard Lange's stories have appeared in StoryQuarterly, The Sun, The Iowa Review and Best American Mystery Stories 2004. He lives in Los Angeles. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 241 pages
  • Publisher: Little Brown & Co; Reprint edition (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316018805
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316018807
  • ASIN: B0046LUHP2
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,709,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Richard Lange has a voice, at times rasty, at times corrosive, and at time tenderly longing for something better than what life has dealt him. And that 'voice' he places in the first person narrative in each of these twelve very pungent short stories that comprise his debut on the writing scene. He is impressive and he is immensely readable.

Lange has an affinity for the ordinary, his characters emerge from the woodwork of sun-baked Los Angeles and become involved in actions and situations that some may find unbelievable, but for those who have observed the peculiar disparity of characters that inhabit the city of Angels, these odd folks seem somehow familiar. In assuming the narrative role in each story Lange makes his aberrant stories more real and at times the story line drifts around like complacent weather reports while at other times little things go wrong with the intensity of the abrupt Santana winds that alter the landscape and psychological bearings of the inhabitants of the city. He has a way with phrasing that makes the reader see the stage of the story clearly: 'He swings out into traffic and we're gobbled up into the steaming maw of the city, where we disappear for good'. 'We pass an accident on the way back to her place, just a fender bender, but still my thoughts go to our parents. When they died I was almost to the point where I could see them as people. With a little more time I might even have started loving them again. What did they stand for? What secrets did they take with them? It was the first great loss of my life'. The samples are endless.
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Format: Hardcover
The media is saturated with sordid tales of celebrity in Los Angeles. But seldom do you hear about the ordinary human beings that celebrities walk among.

But in his debut collection of short stories, Dead Boys, Richard Lange examines the human condition of the workingman--living, breathing, struggling, and dying against the desolate landscape of the city of angels.

"The wiry grass and twisted, oily shrubs that pick up where the roads dead-end and the sprinkler systems peter out are just waiting for an excuse to burst into flame," Lange writes of the city's wildfires, in one short story.

--Lange writes of a salesman who struggles to comprehend his sister's brutal rape and the complexities of their tenuous relationship.

--Then there's a widower, living the fast life of drugs and booze, haunted by the vengefulness of his deceased wife.

--A newsstand attendant tries to get in touch with an old girlfriend and becomes paranoid that a group of Vietnamese gangsters are out to get him.

--Another man smokes too much marijuana and ends up in the middle of the desert in a singed woman's dress.

--Yet another yearns to break free of his everyday regimen.

Like those wildfires that rip haphazardly through the Los Angeles brush, Lange's cast of flawed male characters wander through an aimless existence in the fast-paced city. Each story focuses on a different man haunted by moral instability and a past from which they are unable to detach themselves.

Each of the 12 short stories is presented in first person, adding an element of stark reality and a relatable quality to each character.
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By Gordon on February 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I had a hard time gaining interest iin these short stories after reading the short stories of Don Ray Pollock's KNOCKEMSTIFF. Lange's stories did not seem to have any point to them. They did not flow.
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Format: Paperback
Most writers with literary ambitions start with short stories, exploring their range, control and level of determination. Success at this level is necessarily limited to a few scattered admirers and a few small checks. If there’s no novel coming, that temporary teaching job becomes your career. Richard Lange started with the stories in “Dead Boys” and has gone on to write two novels, "Angel Baby" and "This Wicked World,” which I’m now dying to read after belatedly discovering his hard-hitting debut collection.

Lange has a bead on the young men who come to Los Angeles to suffer and lash out. His method is to shoot brief blips of narrative that follow a theme more often than a scenario. The protagonist staggers from one dubious situation to another, winding up fully exposed. These pitiless glimpses of twentysomethings self-exiled from happiness require the reader to rest a few days or weeks before diving into another account of marginalized futility.

The title story is a classic account of disconnection and alienation, with a side of yearning. “Bank of America” details the disillusionment of a thief: “The only good thing about the moment is that I’m pretty sure that as long as I live I’ll never feel this lonely again.” Road accident, fire, sexual assault pock the plot of “Fuzzyland.” There’s little upside to the lives Lange discovers behind the everydayness of life in L.A. That happy whoosh you hear is Lange’s career.
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