"Lush Life" is an expansive, textured, look at the underbelly of a modern city, New York, whose sanitization (gentrification, if you will) has been overwhelming but still not complete. It is an ambitious book that starts with a single terrible incident, a mugging, gone horribly wrong. It then paints a lush, vivid, if sometimes pointless, painting of how that incident impacts the life of a bunch of characters. It is a fairly familiar plot device and Richard Price does not necessarily add anything overly significant to the genre. He does a fine job of building impressive, impressively real characters around the incident. A couple of cops, a key suspect, the father of the victim, the lowlifes living in New York City projects living a life not too different than what has always been lived in ghettos through the centuries. Somehow the tides of economic progress and Giuliani-ism has left this underworld alone.
This is an endearing but often very tedious book to read and I cannot recommend it as there isn't anything too novel offered here that you haven't already seen in countless films and TV shows. Richard Price does a phenomenal job with language, character and scenes though and it is a good read for that.
Lush Life is another powerful reminder that ephemera is still what best describes us as humans. We, with all our cultivated myth of power and possession are still just very trivial.