Some Things I’m Currently Loving… The Audiobook of Lush Life by Richard Price

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After succumbing one too many times to reading-induced nausea caused by the jaunty trek over Seattle’s lovingly unmaintained streets on the #18 express—that, and the realization that my eyes are shot after years of abuse—I decided to give a whirl.  I’ve never been much of an auditory learner.  My listening/hearing skills are for shit.  I usually forget a person’s name immediately after an introduction.  I never remember song lyrics.  And don’t even bother reciting a phone number to me.  It ain’t happening.  So I wasn’t sure how my initial audiobook experiences would go.

My first selection was Dune by Frank Herbert, which soon became a tedious ordeal, in part because I didn’t care for the story whatsoever, despite its status as a sci-fi classic, and because the British narrator’s refined elocution put me straight to sleep.  I had to continually skip back and re-listen to entire chapters to make sense of the story.  My second selection was Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, which went a little better.  The novel was chock full of eccentric Swedes, serial murder, ex-Nazis, and sex.  It was clipping along as an ideal crime/mystery/thriller should, until it came to the hour-and-a-half long denouement.  I also unwittingly picked the very same British narrator.  So instead of seeing a movie in my head, I saw a dour Englishman sitting in the library by the fire, reading to me from a leather bound tome. Night-y nite.

Now I’m onto something.  After seeing Lush Life live in my recommendations for months and hearing an interview with Richard Price on Fresh Air, I decided to give audiobooks one more try. I’m glad I did.  I was searching for a “movie in my head” experience and I found it.  If you’ve ever seen the movie, Clockers, or are a fan of The Wire, then you’re familiar with Richard Price’s work.  Lush Life brilliantly depicts the story of a shooting that takes place in Manhattan’s lower east side, a seemingly straight forward case that quickly, and unexpectedly, gets very complicated.  Shifting from various points of view–from detectives, to eyewitnesses, to suspects, to victims—Price paints an intricate mosaic that captures the complexities of the case and of the neighborhood that is as much a part of the story as the characters.  But the main reason I’m loving this audiobook is the narration by Bobby Cannavale, whose throaty baritone drips with authenticity–from the street-slang of the projects to the gritty patois of police procedure–providing the ideal complement to Price’s pitch-perfect dialogue.