Richard Price is known for his ear for dialog and realistic portrayals of complex people and communities. In Lush Life, his highly praised eighth novel, he turns his sharp focus on the Lower East Side of the past couple of years, a neighborhood in transition. Price says:
?here are about five worlds down there, and they're oblivious of each other. Well, every once in a while these worlds collide, and when they do it is usually on a street corner at four in the morning. The kids from the projects know that the kids inland have money – put a gun in their face, you can usually score enough cash to buy some Chinese takeout. But the kid whose face you're putting the gun in thinks he's in a movie, he's got his load on, he does the wrong thing – and BOOM, headlines for five days. Then everybody goes back to normal.”
The BOOM incident in this case is a robbery gone bad that echos the LES murder of actress Nicole DuFresne. The subsequent investigation and turmoil that follows fills the pages of this page turning novel. And while I've heard some complaints about the slower second half of the book, which are fair, it's slower parts are still more intriguing than most books out there.
Price was a huge inspiration and later a collaborator on The Wire, and for fans of that show Lush Life will be addition to the pantheon of intelligent crime sagas. For us New Yorkers, it's an intriguing look at our surroundings chock full of recognizable locations (Schiller's Liquor Bar and Milk and Honey,?for example). It's completely deserving of all the praise it's received, and with Price adapting (slowly) his own work for the big screen, this is one of the few page to screen adaptations I'm looking forward to.