Lush Life: A Novel
So, what do you do?” Whenever people asked him, Eric Cash used to have a dozen answers. Artist, actor, screenwriter…But now he’s thirty-five years old and he’s still living on the Lower East Side, still in the restaurant business, still serving the people he wanted to be. What does Eric do? He manages. Not like Ike Marcus. Ike was young, good-looking, people liked him. Ask him what he did, he wouldn’t say tending bar. He was going places—until two street kids stepped up to him and Eric one night and pulled a gun. At least, that’s Eric’s version.
In Lush Life, Richard Price tears the shiny veneer off the “new” New York to show us the hidden cracks, the underground networks of control and violence beneath the glamour. Lush Life is an Xray of the street in the age of no broken windows and “quality of life” squads, from a writer whose “tough, gritty brand of social realism…reads like a movie in prose” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times).
Lush Life is a tale of two Lower East Sides: one a high-priced bohemia, the other a home to hardship, it’s residents pushed to the edges of their time-honored turf. When a cocky young hipster is shot to death by a street kid from the “other” lower east side, the crime ripples through every stratum of the city in this brilliant and kaleidiscopic portrait of the “new” New York.
Amazon Significant Seven, March 2008: No one has a better ear and eye for the American city than Richard Price, and in Lush Life, his first novel in five years, he leaves the fictional environs of Dempsy, New Jersey, where Clockers, Freedomland, and Samaritan were set, for a few crowded blocks of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. There’s a crime at the heart of the story, but you don’t read Price for plot. Instead, you listen as he peels apart layers of class and history through the way his characters talk to each other: hipster bartenders who tell people they’re really writers, homeboys from housing projects named after the Jewish immigrants who have long left the neighborhood, and cops, cops, cops, circling the streets looking for a collar, disappearing into their cases as their own lives go to ruin. —Tom Nissley