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Dead Boys: Stories Paperback – October 1, 2008
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I absolutely loved this book and is easily one of the best collections of short stories I have ever read. Read morePublished on March 1, 2014 by G. Sanchez
Lange is good at presenting an ironic view of characters that is not always what it seems at first glance. Read morePublished on July 30, 2013 by Lance
Dead Boys is one of the finest collections of short fiction I have read in quite some time. The stories within are written with a poetic brutally that'll make you cringe, cry,... Read morePublished on June 26, 2013 by Max Andrew Dubinsky
I picked up this book by chance a couple of years ago and was blown away. It's an incredibly powerful read as Lange has a unique talent for the short story. Read morePublished on December 26, 2012 by Jared Mazzaschi
Rarely does contemporary fiction stun me. Winter's Tale was the last book that took my breath away. In Dead Boys, I could feel the hollow space that will never be filled inside... Read morePublished on June 14, 2011 by Kimberly Kristine Fay
If you've ever lived in LA, or even just visited, it's worth reading this collection of short stories. It's amazing how Lange can bring characters to life in such a few pages.Published on January 16, 2011 by Discotheque
If Damon Runyon's characters dropped a tab, they'd find themselves in Dead Boys. Lange's portrayal of his characters on the fringe of our reality are so unsettling I had to put the... Read morePublished on October 16, 2010 by Martin Zook