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Lush Life: A Novel Paperback – March 3, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 277 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Significant Seven, March 2008: No one has a better ear and eye for the American city than Richard Price, and in Lush Life, his first novel in five years, he leaves the fictional environs of Dempsy, New Jersey, where Clockers, Freedomland, and Samaritan were set, for a few crowded blocks of Manhattan's Lower East Side. There's a crime at the heart of the story, but you don't read Price for plot. Instead, you listen as he peels apart layers of class and history through the way his characters talk to each other: hipster bartenders who tell people they're really writers, homeboys from housing projects named after the Jewish immigrants who have long left the neighborhood, and cops, cops, cops, circling the streets looking for a collar, disappearing into their cases as their own lives go to ruin. --Tom Nissley --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1 Reprint edition (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312428227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312428228
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (277 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Although I'm fairly familiar with Price through his film and television work, and have had "The Wanderers" sitting on my bookshelf for years, I've never read one of his novels until now. Set in a post 9/11, post Gulianni, rapidly gentrifying Lower East Side, the story revolves around a mugging turned murder, and how it affects everyone invovled. The framework is more or less that of a police procedural, where we meet the muggers and perps, see it all go down, meet the police who come along to pick up the peices, and then watch them all interact over the course of the following week.

Price is widely regarded as a master of dialogue, and a master of capturing how people walk it and talk it in the real world. And he certainly does that here, conveying almost everything important via dialogue, which is often heavily spiced with street slang or on the job jargon (which some readers may find offputting). Moreover s a fan of procedurals, I was hooked from the get go by Price's ability to set up the situation, show it go down, and then maintain the seperate threads. Indeed, for the first third of the book, I was completely engrossed.

However, after around 150 pages, he story loses momentum, and the final third of the book definitely drags. A large part of this has to do with the various perspectives Price keep shifting between, and his inability to trim away the fat. While it makes sense that we spend a good deal of time with lead detective Matty, who's trying to sort through conflicting statements and witness accounts, the story isn't helped by his semi-flirtation with the relative of the victim, and a subplot invovling his own stupid kids is really unnecessary.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Richard Price's now-bestselling Lush Life is not as much about a specific crime as it is about New York and the inhabitants of its Lower East side: cops, bartenders, wannabe actors and screenwriters, immigrants, rich kids, broken families, drug addicts, thugs, grocery store owners, the abused, and the abusers, all of them desperate. The murder of Ike Marcus is only a flashpoint. The people that the act brings to the surface define the novel through their individual stories.

Detectives Matty and Yolanda are charged with solving Ike's murder despite the inexplicable reluctance of their superiors to support the effort. Billy Marcus, Ike's father, attracts Matty's sympathy, both as a victim and as a representative of fatherhood, a role that continues to baffle Matty as he tries to deal with his wayward sons. Eric Cash, a bartender who was with Ike when he was shot, follows a downward spiral in the wake of the murder. The shooter, a formerly good kid living in low-income housing, struggles to find some control in an otherwise helpless, and hopeless, situation. Even the more minor characters have burdens that overtake their dreams.

This ambitious novel suffers at times from meandering subplots, some of which seem completely superfluous, not even adding to the larger portrait of life downtown; however, where the structure is more focused, Price shines. Stylistically, Lush Life makes demands on its readers through its sometimes unconventional prose and multiple points-of-view that skip from character to character, subplot to subplot. The result is a memorable, though fractured, portrait of the seedy side of New York.

I recommend this complex novel for Richard Price fans, readers of literary fiction, and those who want more than the usual summer fare. Skip this if you want a suspenseful, quick-read crime novel.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
(The title for this review is from "Lush Life," by Billy Strayhorn.)

Don't pick up a copy of Richard Price's "Lush Life," unless you're ready to give up your weekend. It's compulsively readable, and it's that good. It's also pretty depressing, but depressing in that, "Oh, God, that's life," way.

"Lush Life," is a police procedural that takes place over a little more than a week in the gentrified Inferno of NYC's lower east side. We meet the gentry, the old-timers, the cops, and, of course, the criminals. Nobody's clean, everybody's skimming, everybody's on the make for one thing or another, one guy gets shot in a mugging gone bad, and hell breaks loose in hell.

"Lush Life," has a lot going for it. The characters seem right, and true; the mileu is nailed; most of the pieces seem to be absolutely right-on, though I had a problem with a New Orleans style memorial service that tipped over the top; and the dialogue is so good it could have been written by Satan himself. One character seems to be the moral hinge of the novel - the father of the young man killed in the mugging. He's both pathetic, and a wraith, and he falls apart and comes back together more than once as he reaches for meaning and redemption.

Is there meaning, is there redemption? Check out the last stanza of Billy Strayhorn's incredible lyrics to the Duke Ellington tune, Lush Life:

"Romance is mush/stifling those who strive/so I'll live a lush life in some small dive/And there I'll be/While I rot with the rest/of those whose lives are lonely too..."
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