Lush Life by Richard Price
Reviewed by John Glover, Reference Librarian for the Humanities
New York City has been the subject of countless novels and short stories throughout its existence, and it finds an eerily able chronicler in Richard Price. The author, well known for his gritty, street-level writing shifts his focus here from Jersey to the Big Apple, exploring the crumbling tenements and lives that are being "transitioned" into something newer, bigger, better, and brighter--whether they want to or not. These changes don't come free, and over the course of the book we see the inevitable fading away of much that is good along with the bad.
The story springs from the killing of a young, eyes-on-the-prize actor whose death causes a media sensation. The plot hews to the familiar lines of mysteries and police procedurals, but invests them with the depth of humanity found in all enduring literature. He shifts the prose to match the rhythms of the moment, but the dialogue is where the book shines. Price's dialogue has been praised by many reviewers and critics, and the pains he takes to represent contemporary slang--and the lives of characters much different from himself--is on clear display here. Lush Life will appeal to readers to who enjoy stories of city life, racial politics, and urban resurrection.