Book Review: Lush Life

Lush Lifeby Richard Price

Originally, I considered this book a letdown. Once I started writing about the book, however, I figured out why I sat through and finished it. Price makes really good characters and his prose reads like he's just reporting what happened to him. You can tell this guy does his homework. You can also tell he has a genuine understanding of the streets, as he grew up in the Bronx.

My reading tastes are a little bizarre. I'm an experimenter. I tried to do locations; Chicago was a great pick. India was pretty good, too. I tried a line of love stories (Namesake; Unbearable Lightness of Being; New Yorkers), which made it clear to me that I for the most part hated love stories (unless Gabriel Garcia Marquez was writing them, cause Love in the Time of Cholera was amazing.) I tried for the genre; I actually picked up a young adult book and was bored senseless with it. I do a lot of nonfiction, too, but that's neither here nor there in this discussion.

This time I tried a combination of both: a new genre (mystery) and a location that I've been really into (NYC). First, Lush Life is set in the Lower East Side, but it's far from a mystery. It's quite predictable and that's what sucked. I was hoping for the who-done-it kind of read and it was more like "No sh*t Sherlock" kind of read.

The book focused much more on dysfunctional families and socially awkward people than really being a mystery. There was Eric Cash, a loser and an a-hole. There was Ike Marcus and his family, the victims. Tristan and Little Dap, the killers. Matty and Yolanda, the main cop characters. There is something to be said about the secondary characters, too. Even with minimal description, the characters are vivid.

The cops - they were pretty sweet. The cop interactions were best the best part of the book. I once heard that Price rode around with cops to research for his writing. That's probably why the HBO series The Wire is so gritty, real and praised by critics. His perspective on cops comes out in an entertaining way. Price nails the bureaucracy, police tactics, and camaraderie among the men and women with the shield. The author is a master of dialog and though that's clearest through the conversations the officers have, all of the dialog is meaningful and well crafted.

I finished the book, but despite all its strengths I didn't enjoy that much. I kind of wish I would've taken the time to reread Fahrenheit 451. However, due to some of the strengths mentioned, I would definitely give the author another shot, especially Clockers which is apparently one of his best novels.

1 comment:

Carlie said...

Clockers was excellent. Even the movie was great.