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Lovers and Gangsters: Richard Price Favorites



Guest host Josh Radnor presents two stories that are favorites of novelist and screenwriter Richard Price, author of Lush Life and writer for the television series The Wire and The Night Of, among other credits. Price was the lively and mordant host of a special evening at Symphony Space, as you'll hear in excerpts from his introductory remarks. He loves Isaac Babel's Odessa stories, which feature a host of colorful gangsters, laughable policemen, and petty criminals, because, he says, he was interested in Jewish "thugs." But this deliberately provocative comment belies Babel's adroit and oddly lyrical depiction, in "The King," of a family wedding among the gangsters, read by Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Our second story is by writers' writer Lucia Berlin, whom Price praises for the unexpected acuity of her seemingly mild tales. In "The Love Affair," Berlin depicts with rueful humor an office friendship that takes on an unexpected dimension. The story is read by Rita Wolf.

Since Richard Price is a lover of cities and their grit, we thought our final work would partner well with his picks. Written shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Colson Whitehead's "Lost and Found" is a tribute to New York City, but makes the point that there isn't one New York. The city is shaped by the experience of each resident, and therefore exists both materially, and in memory. The essay is part of Whitehead’s collection The Colossus of New York. To read the piece, we got a great New Yorker and frequent Shorts reader, Alec Baldwin.

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