10.12.2005

Happy Birthday Richard Price

How have I managed to NOT mention Richard Price in all my rantings about good writing. I should be locked overnight in the library without my reading specs for punishment.

My daily email from
Writers' Almanac turns up this:


It's the birthday of the novelist Richard Price, born in New York City (1949). He grew up in a housing project in the Bronx in a tough neighborhood full of street gangs. But Price didn't take part in gangs. He suffered from a mild form of cerebral palsy. He said, "I was a member of the Goldberg gang—we walked down the street doing algebra."

He wrote his first novel, The Wanderers (1974), about a group of teenagers trying to make it out of the Bronx, and it was a big success.

Price went off to Hollywood to try to write screenplays, then came back to the East Coast and started to hang out with cops in Jersey City. He spent three years following the cops around, getting to know some of the drug dealers as well, carrying a notebook, writing down everything he saw and heard. The result was his novel Clockers (1992) about a young drug dealer named Strike who's trying to make enough money to get out of the drug business without getting killed or arrested. It was one of the first works of fiction that tried to describe the crack cocaine trade from the point of view of the dealers, and it was a huge success.

Richard Price said, "I want to create an awareness that certain people exist. Let me just put them on paper so the reader can see who they are."


If you're a fan of the HBO series THE WIRE, Richard Price is one of the novelists who writes teleplays for them. His books are wonderful. Read them If your library doesn't have them, speak sternly to the librarian. If she balks, threaten to lock her in the stacks with Miss Snark.

6 comments:

Myfanwy Collins said...

"Clockers" is a great book. I remember not being able to put it down once I started it.

someone paranoid said...

sure was..it had the strenght of ten men.

Ric said...

Took a few minutes to find it, but my dog-eared copy of Wanderers. Thought that name looked familiar.
Way back to college days....

Happy Birthday.

Elektra said...

Is it the same sort of book as The Outsiders? *shudders at the mere thought*

Mac said...

elektra-it's not at all the same sort of book as The Outsiders.

Now I shall go and spend the day contemplating whether being trapped in the library stacks with Miss Snark would be terrifying, highly entertaining, or both all at once.

Anonymous said...

Clockers was great, unfortunately it seems to be the pinnacle of his work, at least of the five that I read.

Earlier books Blood Brothers, Ladies Man, and The Breaks were pretty good. Since they were all on the short side they didn't have the complexity of Clockers.

Freedomland is set in the Clockers world, but this time from the cop/reporter perspective. Ultimately, it was disappointing. It was really dragging by the end. It seemed like it had been Supersized when it would have worked better as a shorter novel.

Hope he comes up with something new & different.