21 February 2009

Lush Life

Don't let its bulk deter you.* This book is really good!

One night in the Lower East Side, a white waiter is shot outside a deli. He's with two people, a friend who is so drunk he has no recollection of the night and a coworker who tells police they were held up by two African-American males. But two witnesses only placed 3 people at the scene, and despite the coworker's sworn statement that he called 911, his phone shows no record that he called. Who's really responsible? And is the case getting the attention that the dead man's father, the cop assigned to the case or the waiter's boss, a local business owner, think it deserves?

I was impressed by how much information Price managed to pack into the book without using classical modes of exposition. Apparently he spent a lot of time with cops in the neighborhood in order to write about local procedure, and the novel opens with a routine patrol night -- so routine you expect it to segue right into the crime, and it doesn't. (You should pay attention, though.)

It's that kind of frustration of expectations that made me enjoy this book so much. Occasionally I didn't like that frustration -- there's a revealing moment that happens very early in the book (by design) so the reader knows what happened that night before the police do, which I would have nudged back a few chapters -- but overall I thought it was really effective. I'm definitely looking forward to reading CLOCKERS, which my friend Henry recommended in lieu of LUSH LIFE.

*Paperback comes out March 3 if you're feeling spend-y.

1 comment:

Wade Garrett said...

Clockers has been on my list for years - its a good movie, and the story is set in Boerum Hill, just a couple of blocks from my old apartment.

Richard Price is a really good writer - in addition to his novels, he's written for a number of the best crime-related television shows, not least of which is The Wire.