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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

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Lush Life: A Novel

Lush Life: A Novel - Richard Price It has appeared at the top of many lists for the best book of 2008. Both retailers and newspapers hailed it as one of the top novels of the year. Apparently, Richard Price's Lush Life is the shit. I disagree. In fact, the only list I can think of I'd add Lush Life to would be "Most Overrated Novels."Lush Life begins horribly with a story that is incoherent and a setting that isn't based on description, rather just a long string of locations. Sorry, Mr. Price, but listing the names of the stores you drove by this morning does not exempt you from making an effort at creating a visual for the reader. Pete's Bar & Grill has no meaning to me whatsoever.Wade through (and ignore) the book's rocky start and things pick up, you could say they even begin to make sense. Unfortunately it doesn't last, and soon the book is thrown back into poorly written, witless drivel. Begin with the crime, read through the early stages of the investigation, and finish with Eric Cash's scene on the balcony and you have a pretty good book. Unfortunately, that eliminates more than 300 pages from Price's original work.As a whole, Lush Life is a gritty crime novel with no hope. The author's obsession with sex, guns, and the streets darkens every page. Its characters start with potential, but eventually fall into one of three categories, underdeveloped (Tristan), Stereotype (Yolanda), and misdeveloped (Eric).The novel's best quality is its well-developed dialogue. The letters that fall between quotations are the words of cops and the language of the streets. It is not enough, though, to save this Life.There were very slight shimmers of potential in Price's most recent book, but unfortunately, there were no glimmers of hope, and that is what this novel needed most in order to shine.