Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Book Review: Lush Life

Lush Life by Richard Price

I have never been to the NY's Lower East Side, except for a quick dip into Chinatown, and I had no idea of the upheaval taking place there. No knowledge of the history and the current mix of cultures there. Richard Price, though, tells us all about it, immerses us in it, and makes us feel like we've been there. As I breezed through Lush Life, it was like an immersion course or a travelogue. I read in an interview that Price threw out 300 pages, and I'd have to say that I wouldn't mind seeing them.

Let's be clear, though. As much as I enjoyed the novel, it is no masterpiece. It is good, and the praise Price gets for his dialogue is well deserved, but the book does drag at times. Not that it slows down, but it's more like the author didn't know where it was going. Indeed, some of the plot developments later in the novel happen by chance, instead of something that was at least subconsciously expected.

Price does make an attempt, though, to get into the minds of his characters. It's just that it only goes so far. The emotions are on the surface, very evident. The complexities in them are slight.

These flaws don't take away from the enjoyment of the novel. Sometimes you need to read a novel that does just what Lush Life does.

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