Richard Price

Re: Has something been lost on the Lower East Side?

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Do you want to replace the junkies with the yuppies?

Richard Price

Richard Price is a novelist and screenwriter. His books explore the urban world in a gritty, realistic manner that has brought him considerable literary acclaim. Price grew up in a housing project in the northeast Bronx. He is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, has a Bachelor's degree from Cornell University, and an MFA from Columbia. He also did graduate work at Stanford.

Price has written eight novels. His first was The Wanderers (1974), a coming-of-age story set in the Bronx in 1962, written when Price was 24 years old. It was adapted into a movie in 1979 by director Philip Kaufman.  Price's other novels include Bloodbrothers (1976), Clockers (1992), Freedomland (1998), Samaritan (2003), and Lush Life (2008).

He has written numerous screenplays, of which the best known are The Color of Money (1986) for which he was nominated for an Oscar, Sea of Love (1989), Mad Dog and Glory (1992), Ransom (1996), Shaft (2000). He also wrote for the HBO series The Wire. He is often featured in cameo roles in the films he writes.

Price has written for The New York Times, Esquire Magazine, The New Yorker, the Village Voice, Rolling Stone and other publications. He lives in New York City with his family and has taught writing at Columbia, Yale, and New York University (NYU).

In 1999, Price received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature.
You can get all sentimental about it. There’s this big billboard on Houston Street saying “Where did all the junkies go?” Has something been lost on the Lower East Side? Yeah, it had a neighborhood identity. That neighborhood identity has gotten lost, that sense of community has gotten lost. But also, what’s gotten lost is about a million junkies.

Do you want to replace junkies with yuppies?

Maybe the truth lies in the middle somewhere. It’s still a neighborhood. It just has a different identity. But of course, the old guard is gone. The whole point of the book is that nothing is a done deal in New York. There’s no such thing as a complete transformation and a lot of people down there didn’t get the message that they don’t live there anymore because they’re still there.

Recorded On: 3/3/08