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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 134.
- Review Date: 2008-04-28
- Reviewer: Staff
With a perfect ear for dialogue, Bobby Cannavale sounds like he grew up on the same patch of New York's Lower East Side that Price so effectively captures. It's a neighborhood in the midst of gentrification where an unplanned late-night murder of a truculent yuppie bartender by a teenage wannabe gangsta affects the lives of an assortment of disparate Manhattanites. Chief among them are Matty Clark, a dedicated and honorable detective, and Eric Cash, a restaurant manager temporarily accused of committing the crime. As Clark, Cannavale adds just the right mixture of weariness and frustration. He adds dimension and surprisingly subtle touches to all of Price's already rich characters—Clark's patently insincere superior officer, Cash's humane employer, a smarmy actor and, most importantly, the sad, angry, poetry-scribbling killer and the victim's omnipresent guilt-ridden, wraithlike father. Better yet, Cannavale delivers Price's sometimes mind-boggling slanguages (including cop-speak, Ebonics and a sort of restaurateur rap) as smoothly, effortlessly and clearly as an expertly trained Old Vic thespian interprets lines from the Bard. Simultaneous release with the FSG hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 21). (Mar.)
I had the rare treat, in this so-many-books, so-many-audios, so-little-time world, to read and to listen to Lush Life, Richard Price's glowingly acclaimed new novel. And, admitted audiophile though I am, I really think the audio is better. Bobby Cannavale gives an incredible performance, getting every nuance of vibrant, varied New York speak right, even flawless, rapid-fire Puerto Rican Spanish. He takes a page of print and makes it three-dimensional; you hear these characters when they're talking and when they're trying to figure out life on New York's Lower East side, a crazy-quilt of trendy gentrification, disappearing remnants of the Jewish immigrant past and squalid, drug-dirty housing projects. Price is a master observer and chronicler of urban grit bracketed by the culture of crime and the culture of cops. The novel is structured as a police procedural centered on a robbery gone wrong, a senseless killing and the rippling repercussions it has for the killer, the detectives, the victim's friends and family, and the no-longer-promising, writer-wannabe suspect. But Price gives it the depth of fine fiction driven by his amazing talent for dialogue, for capturing the cadences of the street and the more subtle cadences of fear, bravado, sorrow and shame.