Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Best books of 2008: fiction

The Week tabulated the "best book" end-of-year choices of critics for The Atlantic Monthly, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Denver Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, New York, The New York Times, the Denver Rocky Mountain News, Salon.com, Time, The Village Voice, and The Washington Post.

One title on the list:
Lush Life
by Richard Price
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26)

Crime novelist Richard Price does the 19th-century-style “novelist-as-reporter thing” better than any American writer alive, said Sam Anderson in New York. His latest marries “the visceral pleasures of a whodunit” with “the more cerebral thrill of a sociology project” after a botched street robbery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side leaves one white hipster dead and another under suspicion of inventing a black suspect. The steady patter provided by “the best writer of dialogue since Plato” makes every cop and every mere bystander jump from the page. The precision of the storytelling exceeds even Price’s own past work, said David L. Ulin in the Los Angeles Times. Despite its admirable range and ambition, Lush Life is “a rocket of a book.” It starts with a bang and “never lets up.”
A caveat: Some of the dramatic tricks that Price has learned from screenwriting, said Ulin, undermine his bid for Zola-like authenticity.
Read about Number One on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue