Richard Price

Lush Life

p. 80 — "I don't know, people say they're one thing or another? Then at some point, they just are what they are." — Eric Cash

p. 210 — After all was said and done, he didn't really know why he wasn't at least going through the motions of helping out, if for no other reason than to get everybody off his back. But he did know this: the guy was dead and it wouldn't help bring him back or get him justice if Eric didn't see any faces or overhear any telling talk. And he knew this: after the shooters broke him in half that night, those bastards in the interview room had finished the job, removing every shred of innocence or inspiration or optimism that still clung to him after all these years, extracting whatever was left in him of hope or illusion, whatever amorphous yearning had managed to remain in him to shine, to be something; he'd been hanging on by his fingernails at best anyway, and now, and now, he was just saying No. He didn't want to go along to get along anymore. He didn't want to break anymore. He'd picked maybe the worst thing to say No to, but there you are.

p. 404 — From working the press to raising the cash to facing down the brass, Billy had come through like a champ, but Matty knew that the victory was a setup; that what Billy was to discover now, if he hadn't already, was that even though the best of all possible outcomes had been achieved here, there would be nor relief for him from that grinding sense of anticipation he'd carried in his gut for the last few days, that no matter what came down the line, what measures of justice were ultimately portioned out, what memorials or scholarship funds established, whatever new children would come into his life, he would always carry in himself that grueling sensation of waiting: for a tranquil heart, for his son to stop messing around and reappear, for his own death.


Jesse loved her brother at that moment, his bulldog devotion, but also felt gripped by a sadness for Ben, the pain of his love for her, the absence of other people in his life. The feeling began to expand into a sadness for herself, a frightening, stoned loneliness that was married to this unreal hour, this grievous place, the mad woman in the kitchen. 184

And then there were those, and in this group Jesse included herself, who were addicted to something she thought of as the Infilling—the compulsive hankering to witness, to absorb, to taste human behavior in extremis; the desire to embrace, to be filled with, no matter how fleetingly, the power of human grief, human rage; to experience it over and over; to absorb the madness of others, the commitment of others, the killers, the killed, the bereaved, the stunned, the liars, the fuckers, the heroes, the clownish, and the helpless. Jesse needed these people to come inside her, to give her life, a life, and she loved them for it.

"But still, it's, like, most white people—for me—I feel like they're not so much talking to me as they're watching themselves talking to me—like, admiring themselves talking to me—and I play this guessing game. How many minutes into this conversation, no matter what we're talking about right now—could be sports, the market, could be the weather—but how many minutes is it gonna take for race to come up. How long is it gonna take for the fact that it's a white person talking to a black person to take over and change the subject, turn the subject into something racial. It never fails. Never. And I don't know how you deal with it, but for me it's nerve-racking, and it's boring." — Billy