Posts Tagged ‘Richard Price’

Some Fiction From the First Decade of the 2000s (2000-2009) That is Too Good to be Forgotten


Below are ten works of fiction from the early 2000s all about which I became enthusiastic and which led me to put these writers in my Must-Read category.


‘The Other Side of You’ by Salley Vickers (2006) – Salley Vickers connects the great works of art, in this case the art of Caravaggio, with the conscious daily lives of her characters in a compelling way. Her novels are definitely literary, yet are as light as a soufflé.




‘Ludlow’ by David Mason (2007) – Here is a novel-in-verse but not with the subject matter you would expect for a novel in verse. The coal miners of Ludlow, Colorado go on strike in 1914, one of the cruelest, bloodiest chapters in the history of American labor. The verse novel strategy works brilliantly to describe scenes that are not always pretty.


‘The Beauty of the Husband’ – A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos by Anne Carson (2001) – In lyrical lines that suggest the movements of tango dancers, Carson describes scenes from a doomed marriage. This is a modern take on the intimate cruelties of marriage.

Three minutes of reality

All I ever asked

She stands looking out at rain on the roof.”

‘The Inheritance of Loss’ by Kiran Desai (2006) – I read much of the work of her mother Anita Desai, and daughter Kiran Desai carries on brilliantly. ‘The Inheritance of Loss’ has depth, emotion, hilarity, and imagination; what more can you ask for?. But why hasn’t Kiran Desai published any fiction since 2006?




‘The Known World’ by Edward P. Jones (2003) – By focusing on a black slave owner, Edward P. Jones avoids turning this novel into a morality play of good and evil. There is no one preaching. The matter-of-fact tone only intensifies the reader’s reaction to this story.




‘Black Swan Green’ by David Mitchell (2006) – This is David Mitchell’s lightest most engaging novel, and it is my favorite of his work.

These jokes the world plays, they’re not funny at all.”




‘Gilgamesh’ by Joan London (2001) – A teenage woman and her young child take an amazing trip from rural Western Australia to Armenia and back. This is a blunt and beautifully written novel that deals with life’s tough truths.





‘John Henry Days’ by Colson Whitehead (2001) – Even before ‘Underground Railroad’, Colson Whitehead wrote wonderful novels. This novel is more humorous and thus more fun for me than ‘Underground Railroad’. Sometimes it seems writers lose their lightness as they get older.



‘Lush Life’ by Richard Price (2008) – Richard Price is the excellent writer of novels that take place on the streets of New York. He lived in a housing project as a child and knows all about the city street life. He has branched out to writing for TV and the movies, but I have followed his written fiction from the beginning.




‘How the Light Gets In’ by M. J. Hyland (2004) In 2004, M. J. Hyland was the new female novelist who burst on the scene with this her first wonderful novel and got much of the attention and some awards. After reading this novel and her next, ‘Carry Me Down’, I put her in my must-read category. However she has not published a novel since 2009.



Generosity’ by Richard Powers (2009) – A likable and passionate novel about the search for happiness and the Happiness gene. And you thought our state of mind was the result of happy or sad events in our lives?


Happy Reading!

‘The Whites’ by Harry Brandt aka Richard Price – A Cop in New York City

The Whites’ by Harry Brandt aka Richard Price   (2015) – 333 pages     Grade: B+


Richard Price is the great urban novelist of the United States. Police procedural novels are usually not my favorite reads, but I make an exception for Richard Price.   I have followed his work from the very beginning back in 1974 with his first book of connected stories, ‘The Wanderers’. I have read all of his fiction since then.  He has branched out into screenwriting (‘The Color of Money’, ‘Sea of Love’, ‘Clockers’) and television (‘The Wire’). He has the accuracy and honesty to portray all of his characters as individuals rather than as members of any group.

First let me explain the title, ‘The Whites’.  Price’s conceit is that every member of the police force has one case that sticks in his or her craw, a case where a vicious perpetrator, who could be any race or nationality, was never ever arrested or held responsible for their hellacious crime.

“They had all met their personal Whites, who had committed criminal obscenities on their watch and then walked away untouched by justice.”  

The white whale.  Leave it to Richard Price, in a society where the word ‘black’ is given so many negative connotations, to give the word ‘white’ a negative connotation.  Richard Price is a true believer in justice, in fair play.

In Richard Price’s fiction, the cops and the criminals live quite similar lives.  Both have husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends and family; both do what they can to get a little extra money; both have lots of troubles.  It’s just that the cops are on one side of the law and the criminals the other.  The cops generally came from the same area they now work in and know some of the criminals from childhood.

Just to give you a sense of the spirit and city ambiance of ‘The Whites’ so you can decide whether or not you want to read it,  I will quote the first paragraph on New York street life.

“As Billy Graves drove down Second Avenue to work, the crowds worried him: a quarter past one in the morning and there were still far more people pulling into the bars than leaving them, everyone coming and going having to muscle their way through the clumps of half-hammered smokers standing directly outside the entrances.  He hated the no smoking laws.  They created nothing but problems – late-night noise for the neighbors, elbow room enough for the bar-cramped beefers to finally start swinging, and a plague of off-duty limos and radio cabs all tapping their horns to hustle fares.”

Police are sworn to uphold the law and impart justice for all of the people in their districts.  We hear about some police forces that are led by white racists, and there probably are some.  But racists make lousy cops, because they don’t believe in justice and they don’t believe in fair play.

Although Richard Price uses the pseudonym Harry Brandt here, he makes no attempt to hide the name Richard Price which is also printed in big letters on the cover.  I’m not sure he will accomplish much of anything with the pseudonym.

‘The Whites’, just published, is already scheduled to be made into a movie.


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