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Clockers: A Novel Paperback – Mar 4 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1 edition (March 4 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312426186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312426187
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.9 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #48,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

With consistent authority, Price explores the gritty underside of a New Jersey housing project in this four-week PW bestseller.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Price (The Breaks, 1982, etc.) has spent the past ten years writing for Hollywood (Sea of Love, etc.)--but you wouldn't know it from the dense textures and supple dramatics of this epic slice of urban grit about frazzled drug-dealers and burnt-out cops. Of the many impeccably authentic urban types here, Price focuses on two: 20-ish ``Strike'' Dunham, black chief of a crew of crack-dealers (``clockers'') in the dead-end burg of Dempsy, N.J., and 43-year-old white Dempsy homicide cop Rocco Klein. Each is suffering an identity crisis when a murder puts them on a collision course. Strike, in a constant panic from dealing with his homicidal boss, crack-kingpin Rodney Little, is considering changing jobs; Rocco, six months from retirement, is thinking that his life is a big zero--a nullity underlined by his humiliating antics to curry the favor of a film star who might portray him in a movie. Then someone guns down another of Little's henchmen, and--shocking both Strike and Rocco--Strike's solid-citizen older brother, Victor, confesses to the killing: ``self-defense,'' he claims. Not so, thinks Rocco, who decides that Victor is covering for Strike and starts harassing the young dealer by framing him as a stoolie- -certain death at Little's hands. Meanwhile, myriad subplots vivify Strike's and Rocco's worlds: Rocco initiates the film star into the horrors of jail-life; Strike apprentices a young boy into dealing; Rocco's baby girl disappears; Little's legendary hit man wastes away from AIDS; Strike nearly dies from a bleeding ulcer. Finally, Strike, with a vengeful Little literally steps behind, turns to Rocco for help--a move that allows both to find a kind of hope and renewal. A vital and bold novel rich in unexpected pleasure, with Price generally avoiding melodrama, sentimentality, and stereotype to portray a harsh world with cleareyed compassion. (Film rights sold- -for a highly touted $1.9 million, including Price's screenplay.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
STRIKE SPOTTED HER: baby fat, baby face, Shanelle or Shanette, fourteen years old maybe, standing there with that queasy smile, trying to work up the nerve. Read the first page
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tom Helleberg on June 23 2004
Format: Paperback
I first stumbled onto Richard Price with a fifty-cent used copy of "Ladies' Man." It was engaging and fun, kind of like an unusually smart episode of Seinfeld with an NC-17 rating. It convinced me to give "Blood Brothers" a try and after that, forget it. I went forward to "Samaritan," back to "The Wanderers," and tracked down copies of his screenplays in between. I couldn't read enough of this guy.
However, Clockers remains Price's grand achievement to date. It's a crime novel of unusual depth that bears more in common with Dostoevsky than Elmore Leonard. Some reviewers have said Clockers fails as a mystery. I'll be the first to agree: as a genre mystery, Clockers does fail. But it's not a genre mystery. It's a map of the landscape, both urban and personal. It's a novel of morals and it's a tragedy. Price follows the drug-dealing Strike and detective Klein as their stories head inevitably towards collision. Both men are working to do the right thing, but are put directly at odds by forces out of their control. This is tragic to the capital T. Price accomplishes many astonishing feats here, not the least of which include making the world of Demsey real enough to touch and developing deep sympathy and understanding for both Strike and Klein without ever trading his gritty style for schmaltz. Price has incredible powers of observation, his eye for character and ear for dialogue, doubtless honed by his time working in housing project administration.
I absolutely disagree with the reviewer who claims that Price falls short of Lethem, Gibson, and Leonard.
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Format: Paperback
Richard Price's "Clockers" is a gritty, honest, brutally realistic portrayal of a young drug dealer trying to go straight, set in a bleak urban landscape of a fictional New Jersey city (In reality it is Jersey City, since Price mentions real streets in his gripping narrative.). Strike, the young dealer, is a mesmerizing protagonist, neither hero or villian, trapped by dire circumstances in his drug-infested, criminal world. Rocco, a delinquent husband and father, is a lackadaisal detective who finds new strength and appreciation for his work after trying to untangle a complex web of clues related to a bloody gangland-style homicide inside a local restaurant suspected of having strong ties to drug dealers such as Strike. Although I am quite impressed with Price's bleak tale, I can award it only four stars since it falls short in literary quality to some of the best work written in a similar vein by the likes of Elmore Leonard, William Gibson and Jonathan Lethem.
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Great book, it is not often that an author can come up with such a comprehensive book as this on his first try. This had it all, a great story, good characters, wonderful action and a quick pace. This is an exciting book that at its heart is a murder mystery. I think this is just a Powerful book, I just got in the head of the main character - the writing is just that good. ... I will add that I loved the location descriptions and characters. I doubt you will be able to put it down; the story is just so well put together.
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Richard Price's Strike is an unforgettable character - a teenage drug dealer with moral fiber, smart enough to save his money and not draw attention to himself with a flashy lifestyle, who secretly feels protective of his young "clockers" and learns to respect the cop that investigates him for a murder he didn't commit.
Great story, great writing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 81 reviews
58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
An unconventional murder mystery with street credibility May 29 2001
By buddyhead - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Clockers is a murder mystery, complete with suspense and a twist ending, cloaked in an unconventional, raw street setting. The novel possesses more street-smarts than any other book I've read, fiction or not. The dialogue, internally (i.e., in the characters' own heads) and externally, was tough and vibrant, and employed street vernacular which rang credible without sounding clichéd. Many authors tell tales of drug dealers and ghetto crimes, but rare is the account from a drug-dealer's point of view. A troubled, intelligent, calculating drug-dealer, no less, who considers the repercussions of his every move.
All of Clockers' characters were realistically flawed, able to invoke both sympathy and disgust. Strike, the ulcer-stricken dealer, was in constant turmoil as he struggled between trying to earn enough from his illicit trade to get out of it, and attempting to help others avoid being dragged into the same web. Rocco, the homicide detective and delinquent family-man, had a love-hate relationship with his work, and sought a mission through which to justify his continued involvement in the force. Victor (Strike's brother) was an honest, hard working black man who had risen above the allure of the street life around him, but wrestled with his own demons and internal sense of justice. Everyone's paths met with the murder of a lesser character, at which point the cat and mouse game was afoot.
Lesser, but no less interesting plot lines abound: Strike's education of his would-be apprentice, Tyrone; Strike's efforts to free himself from an unhealthily dependent relationship with drug kingpin Rodney; and Rocco's schoolboy interest in being shadowed by a cocksure filmmaker with an interest in a police picture. Also fascinating and seemingly credible were the lessons in police and ghetto-civilian dealings: crooked cops being paid for protection; dealers ratting on one another to escape arrest; and unlikely, yet highly effective, working relationships between cops and dealers born from years of coexistence. Lastly, the issues broached by Clockers are current by today's standards, including AIDS, the questionable efficacy of drug busts, and the shiftlessness of ghetto kids who turn to pushing in the absence of concerned adults.
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Gritty And Great Aug. 30 2000
By Mark A. Schreiber - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Richard Price has an ear for street dialogue and he knows how to give his characters depth and dimension. As much as I loved Price's "Freedomland", this book is an even greater accomplishment.
There are no one-dimensional characters here. Everyone is real. Strike, the clocker, deals drugs and damages the life of a young boy. Yet there is goodness, awareness and a glimmer of hope inside him. Sometimes we hate him, sometimes we pity him, sometimes we admire him. Rocco the homicide cop is equally vivid, a hero in some ways, a tragic figure in others. These are people we care about because they're so full and real. Even Rodney, Strike's boss, a badass dude for sure, dispenses some truths and solid advice when he's recruiting clockers in lockup.
As deep as the characterizations run, the book surprisingly evolves into a whodunit. By the time you realize this, you're so involved with the characters, you have a steep investment in how it all turns out. There were times I laughed out loud, there were times I cried, and there were times I had to put this book down and reflect on the poignant truths that reveal themselves to these people.
As a fan of crime fiction and police procedurals, this book stands apart from the genre. There is action, to be sure, but "Clockers" is a character study in a gritty environment, and you feel the threat and wear of imminent violence on every page. Yet you'll find some decency as well.
For an exciting and totally involving journey into the inner city and the world of cops and dealers, it doesn't get any better than this.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Stunning mastery of setting and character March 7 2006
By Questio Verum - Published on
Format: Paperback
This was my first reading of Price. I'm a reader who likes literary genre fiction and generally, I think it is hard to come by. Price is a master writer who creates the most vivid worlds I have read since James Lee Burke, and in fact, really gets more gritty than Burke. I think most of what I would say has been very well covered in other reviews. The one thing I would mention is the absolutely beautiful opposite but parallel characters Price offers here. Strike and Rocco are both lost souls, just in different environs; they are both looking for a reason to believe, to hope, and in their worlds that's a lot to ask. I also enjoyed the way Price picked up the pace for the last one hundred pages. My only complaint (and it's a minor one): for me, the book was longer than it needed to be. 400 pages, great. 500, maybe. But by six hundred I had heard about Strike's stomach and Rocco's insecurity a bit too much. Good stuff.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant, an excellent piece of Literature Dec 5 1999
By Clocker572 - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One the wittiest, darkest, most complex murder mystery since L.A. Confidential (The book a Classic masterpiece, the movie nothing more than good entertainment) Rocco and Strike are perfect players for Richard Prices character study of cops and dealers, the good and the bad, the black and white and the brown who all seem to be misunderstanding eachother rather than truly listening to eachother. Price was able to get me so into the charcters complex persona and agendas that when he uncovers the answer to the mystery I realized that I had become as blind as Rocco firy detective and Strikes mentally confused and conflicted drug dealer. The Clockers are as deadly as they are sad and as angry as they are full of it. (That doesn't include Rodney, Buddha Hat, or Errol Barnes, who all have an evil and dangerous aura that, unlike most hoods, truly is dangerous.) The film was surprisingly faithful to the novel and its message, although I was dissapointed that they took out such charcters as Buddha Hat and Futon and Peanut and Champ and didn't focus on Thumper at all and waited till the end to bring out the rage and fury of Andre until the end of the movie. The book, though, is a classic example of urban tension and decay and depression and hopelessness and the good people who are taken down because of it. But also how an act of mercy can bring hope to the most hopeless clocker and the most burnt out detective.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant, mind blowing and extremely well researched March 9 2008
By Joe Cutts - Published on
Format: Paperback
Richard Price first came up with the idea for Clockers whilst sat in a fast food restaurant in New York, during the waning years of what later became known as The Crack Epidemic. Whilst he observed overworked teenage kids sweating behind the counter for minimum wage inside, outside street dealers - in full view of the restaurant staff - made twenty times as much selling Crack.

This posed the seemingly obvious question: What stops the guys inside the restaurant from doing what the guys outside the restaurant are doing? With that question in mind Price set out to research and, ultimately write, one of the finest examinations of 20th century crime ever written.

Set against a modern day equivalent of Hogarth's Gin Lane, rife with crime, privation, and a new form of Mother's Ruin - Crack - Clockers is the story of murder, deceit, prejudice, corruption, and, ultimately, redemption.

While there are some minor inaccuracies concerning the actual drug, it's clear the rest of the book, including the black society in which it is set, was meticulously researched, for which the author should receive recognition - after all it isn't often non-black writers document Afro-America without relying heavily on conjecture.
Slightly dated now, this is still a brilliant, edifying, and educational novel. Top marks.

Oh, and the answer to that question: What stops the guys inside the restaurant from doing what the guys outside the restaurant are doing? Those guys inside have someone's heart to break and they know it - that's why they aren't doing it.