Clockers

Clockers

Novelist and Academy Award–nominated screenwriter Richard Price's bestselling second novel offers "an unforgettable picture of inner-city decay and despair" (USA Today) At once an intense mystery and a revealing study of two men, a veteran homicide detective and an innercity crack dealer, on opposite sides of an endless war. Clockers is "powerful . . . harrowing . . . rem...

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Title:Clockers
Author:Richard Price
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Edition Language:English

Clockers Reviews

  • Leftbanker

    This was one of my favorite books of the 1990s. The burned-out cop character was a bit of a cliché, but the setting of the novel in a post-apocalyptic New Jersey housing project was the work of inspired journalism. Price had a lot of great insights in this work that could only have been the result of going out and being a witness to the world he was describing. As the great novelist once said, "You can't make this shit up."

    I’m sure this novel is completely ignored in college classrooms because p

    This was one of my favorite books of the 1990s. The burned-out cop character was a bit of a cliché, but the setting of the novel in a post-apocalyptic New Jersey housing project was the work of inspired journalism. Price had a lot of great insights in this work that could only have been the result of going out and being a witness to the world he was describing. As the great novelist once said, "You can't make this shit up."

    I’m sure this novel is completely ignored in college classrooms because professors want kids to read books by writers who write about writing (Updike, Roth, Irving, Joyce Carol Oates, and lot of other literati who need to get outside and get some fresh air once in a while). I’ve never been too curious as to what takes place in the exciting world of academia or literary circles. Once a writer writes about writing, I stop reading. Price went out and found a great story. The human imagination is way over-rated in literature these days. They say that you have to write about what you know. The problem is that a lot of novelists don't know anything and aren't willing to go out and learn something new.

  • Adam

    Like Dostoevsky meets Tupac and it's pretty awesome for it. An amazingly complex and l-o-n-g tale of half-flawed people negotiating the pretty bleak world of the north Jersey projects. Every time I thought one of the characters was stooping to stereotype, Price introduced another layer of ambiguity that made much of said characterization ring true. Best of all, the story is so long that no detail is extraneous; the author had time to make everything more or less add up to something. Even Strike'

    Like Dostoevsky meets Tupac and it's pretty awesome for it. An amazingly complex and l-o-n-g tale of half-flawed people negotiating the pretty bleak world of the north Jersey projects. Every time I thought one of the characters was stooping to stereotype, Price introduced another layer of ambiguity that made much of said characterization ring true. Best of all, the story is so long that no detail is extraneous; the author had time to make everything more or less add up to something. Even Strike's annoying stutter mattered in the end. If you can stomach the bleakness of the landscape, this is well worth the effort.

  • Richard

    Amazing!!!

    tracks the parallel stories of two men on different sides of the drug game (one a young, mid-level, crack dealer, the other a homicide cop), revolving around a murder in Price's fictional New Jersey city of Dempsey. The engaging characterizations of these two men are what truly make this novel shine. From the dealer Strike (with his paranoia, orderliness, and his frustration with both his lower-level dealers and his perforated ulcer), to Detective Rocco (with his jaded outlook

    Amazing!!!

    tracks the parallel stories of two men on different sides of the drug game (one a young, mid-level, crack dealer, the other a homicide cop), revolving around a murder in Price's fictional New Jersey city of Dempsey. The engaging characterizations of these two men are what truly make this novel shine. From the dealer Strike (with his paranoia, orderliness, and his frustration with both his lower-level dealers and his perforated ulcer), to Detective Rocco (with his jaded outlook on is job, love for his wife and daughter, and his embarrassing obsession with pleasing a famous actor), the characters are truly vivid and feel totally genuine! Price is so wonderful at creating characters that feel really alive.

    But there's also so much more here. At times it's flat-out funny, it has a suspenseful mystery, and has a huge dose of urban social commentary. An all-around classic and one of my favorites!

  • Ned

    Extraordinary. The story of a uniquely talented, scrupulously clean and intelligent teen-aged dope peddler in the projects, in some city in the north east. Spike sits on the benches with a bleeding ulcer, tolerating the daily inconveniences of thuggish cops and pondering his future. He is totally alone, caught between the urge to be upwardly mobile in the ultimately fatal drug trade, tutored by a hardened old (30 something) psychopath who runs an unending number of scams. This is a how-to about

    Extraordinary. The story of a uniquely talented, scrupulously clean and intelligent teen-aged dope peddler in the projects, in some city in the north east. Spike sits on the benches with a bleeding ulcer, tolerating the daily inconveniences of thuggish cops and pondering his future. He is totally alone, caught between the urge to be upwardly mobile in the ultimately fatal drug trade, tutored by a hardened old (30 something) psychopath who runs an unending number of scams. This is a how-to about the drug trade, from the connections coming in, the turf skirmishes, the “cuts” tailored to the clientele, the supply chain mechanics on the street, and the complex system of police payoffs. Every other chapter is from another point of view, a homicide detective who is nearing the end of his career and is equally competent and empathetic to his impoverished community, despite shocking instances of tactical brutality as the cops and drug dealers conduct their orchestrated dance in an insane ritual. Richard Price displays an intimate knowledge of both ends of these spectra (law enforcement, street crime) and somehow gets deep into the heads of the entire distribution of individuals. He does not attempt to describe any female points of view, consequently this is a very masculine book. It deals with race in a frank and realistic way, without a shred of politeness, as I imagine it would have played on the street in 1992 (somehow my last 2 novels were published in this year).

    I had to give this my top rating because the characters were so real and made me care deeply about their destiny as the frightening plot was revealed. I could have read this in one setting if my schedule permitted – it is not a short book but every word, every sentence crackled with realistic dialogue and constant fear and motion. I recall seeing this movie back in the day, with Spike Lee as a character, and that it struck me as more deeply meaningful and complex than most movies, but I don’t remember much else (thankfully, so my mind was not contaminated as I read the book). The book was down and dirty, in the streets, and rich with detail (the complex management required to be a middle man dope peddler is a mean feat beyond the capabilities of most white collar safe jobs, and 1000% more perilous).

    I’ll be reading more Richard Price. I seem to be reading about cities, cops, thieves, black culture, crime and humans trapped in circumstances they cannot control. This book was not heroic in any sense, and far less stereotyped than others of its ilk (LeHane, e.g.). But it is the dialogue that really stands out as exceptional, building the characters into the true complex beings they are.

  • Dave

    Awesome! Price has got the inner city down. This novel which switches back and forth between two points of view. Strike is an inner city 🌃 drug dealer who lives in the projects and sits at the benches slinging “bottles” (crack vials), hiding his cash in safe houses, and thinking someday he’ll have the balls to walk out of the life still breathing. His mother told him never to come back and his brother Victor works the straight life with two jobs and a dream of getting out of the projects and a w

    Awesome! Price has got the inner city down. This novel which switches back and forth between two points of view. Strike is an inner city 🌃 drug dealer who lives in the projects and sits at the benches slinging “bottles” (crack vials), hiding his cash in safe houses, and thinking someday he’ll have the balls to walk out of the life still breathing. His mother told him never to come back and his brother Victor works the straight life with two jobs and a dream of getting out of the projects and a wife and two kids. The other point of view is homicide detective Rocco, who is not completely jaded even after working these mean streets. There’s an unsolved homicide tying these two characters together.

    What makes this 610 page behemoth sing is how well Price captures the language and the rhythm and the attitude of the two worlds that Strike and Rocco inhabit. The dialogue and the narrative is real. It’s genuine. It’s authentic.

    Strike is not completely bad, at least compared to some of the hard cases he deals with. He’s maybe in the wrong game but can’t walk out. But he recruits younger kids, sells dope, and plans a murder.

    You not only get the juxtaposition of Strike and his hardworking brother but the contrast with Rocco who really wants to do right and not sacrifice a lamb to the wolves.

    All in all, Price gives us one helluva top-notch crime fiction novel here.

  • Dan Schwent

    A drug dealer is gunned down in a diner and the brother of another drug dealer is the prime suspect. Did he do it? That's what Rocco Klein wants to find out. But can he get the suspect's brother, a crack dealer named Strike, to cooperate?

    Like most people who have read this in recent years, I lov

    A drug dealer is gunned down in a diner and the brother of another drug dealer is the prime suspect. Did he do it? That's what Rocco Klein wants to find out. But can he get the suspect's brother, a crack dealer named Strike, to cooperate?

    Like most people who have read this in recent years, I loved HBO's The Wire and Price was one of the writers. This feels like the novelization of four Wire episodes in the best way possible.

    Clockers is a crime book but it's also a window into the lives of cops and the crack dealers they're trying to catch. Much like The Wire, Clockers shows that both sides of the conflict are fairly ordinary human beings, not knights in shining armor or scene-chewing villains.

    Strike and Rocco, the two leads, are both well-drawn, conflicted characters. Neither is particularly happy with his lot in life. Rocco sees an actor as his way out of the cop's life and Strike just wants to make enough money to get out.

    The mystery is actually secondary. The real focus is on the lives of Rocco, Strike, and the rest. The crack business is a lot more complicated than I thought and now I'm even more keenly aware of why so many cops wind up divorced, alcoholic, and/or eating their guns.

    The writing is a notch above most crime books, akin to Dennis Lehane and George Pelecanos. I thought the plot meandered a bit but not as much as in the last Price book I read, Lush Life. The city of Dempsey is almost a character.

    Four out of five stars. Maybe it's time I rewatch the entire run of The Wire.

  • Matt

    - the term refers to the low-level, 24-hour drug slingers staked outside the projects - was written in 1992, and takes place before then. Which is why it took me so long to figure out why the characters referred to the cops as "Furies." It's because the police drove Plymouth Furies. Natch.

    My disorientation has a point: this is a book that takes place in a world that most goodreads.com members have never been to. It's set in the fictional town of Dempsey, but is as real and bleak a look

    - the term refers to the low-level, 24-hour drug slingers staked outside the projects - was written in 1992, and takes place before then. Which is why it took me so long to figure out why the characters referred to the cops as "Furies." It's because the police drove Plymouth Furies. Natch.

    My disorientation has a point: this is a book that takes place in a world that most goodreads.com members have never been to. It's set in the fictional town of Dempsey, but is as real and bleak a look at the projects as you're likely to get. (As far as I know, of course. I was born in Bloomington, Minnesota. You know what's dangerous about Bloomington? Nothing. Stray hockey pucks from the Pee-Wees practicing on the rink).

    is built around a murder, but it's not a murder mystery. You're pretty much told who did the killing, and the secret is why this person shot this other guy. In the end, the surprise is that there is no surprise. Which is life, I guess, but also a gyp in dramatic terms. Like

    , though, the plot is not the point. It's the place. The people, the places, the dangerous and unending cat-and-mouse between cops, detectives, drug lords and clockers.

    The story is told in chapters that switch between a detective's point of view (Rocco) and a clocker's point of view (Strike). Rocco is the somewhat-dated archetype: the cop who still believes in the Job. He's burnt out, of course, and has an endearing habit of chugging vodka from his freezer before he goes to bed. Strike is the more interesting character: a young man who drinks a ton of Yoo-Hoo to mask his ulcer, who is unapologetic about his business yet equally scared of his boss than of the cops.

    Strike is drawn into Rocco's world after Strike's brother, Victor, is apprehended for murder. Rocco doesn't think Victor did it; he's after Strike. Strike is oblivious to this, because he's got to deal with the terrifying and enigmatic Rodney, a drug kingpin who also happens to run a convenience store and who preaches paternally to his young clockers about saving for the future: buy real estate, not sneakers. Strike also serves as reluctant mentor to young Tyrone, clocker-of-the-future, until he runs into the formidable force of Tyrone's mother.

    ran on too long. At least for me. I'm not adverse to plot-less books, if I'm enjoying the world I'm in. Here, though, I was as desperate to escape as any of the street thugs. Moreover, some of the goings-on were a waste of time. For instance, there is a ludicrous sub-plot about a filmmaker shadowing Rocco in order to prepare for his next movie. This leads to Rocco harboring dreams of becoming an executive producer. In such a gritty tale, these proceedings have a shiny, plastic, sitcom feel. The whole thread could have been snipped.

    Overall, though, this is a heck of a read. It's weighty, it's epic. It is filled with indelible, fully-realized, flawed and struggling characters. The dialogue rings. It is true to its world; that is, it's bleak and despairing. Probably the only reason I enjoyed

    more is that it allowed some sunlight to filter through. In my mind, the City of Dempsey is like Fincher's New York City in Se7en: a place where it's always raining, where the sky is a black ceiling. At the end of the day, though some might be saved, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Paul Bryant

    Detective Klein and Detective Mazilli are discussing the suspect they've just brought in. He's an author who's accused of

    That's something that'll get you 3 to 5 in New Jersey and up to 10 in New York where they take reading more seriously. The suspect is an oldish Jewish guy who's currently in the interrogation room looking bored. The charges relate to three long novels published between 1992 and 2008, Clockers, Freedomland, and Lush Life. Together these add up

    Detective Klein and Detective Mazilli are discussing the suspect they've just brought in. He's an author who's accused of

    That's something that'll get you 3 to 5 in New Jersey and up to 10 in New York where they take reading more seriously. The suspect is an oldish Jewish guy who's currently in the interrogation room looking bored. The charges relate to three long novels published between 1992 and 2008, Clockers, Freedomland, and Lush Life. Together these add up to 1732 pages. Small print pages. They can hurt your eyes.

    The detectives are perplexed.

    - I'm telling you this is the guy.

    - This is the guy? This skinny white mope?

    - What's the problem, he even

    he's Richard Price. He admits it. We got his driver's licence, we got that woman who ID'd him –

    - That one who says she's some kind of fan?

    - She got a book

    by this guy. She waited in line for him to

    it. This is big in some people's world. A guy writes his name in a book. It's big.

    - I could write Richard Price on any damn book you want. Here, give me one, I show you. This is just some sad fuck who has the same name, you know it, I know it. You seriously telling me an old Jewish guy can write thousands a pages a authentic black dialogue not to mention taking the reader on a tour of the whole inner city experience, the crack trade, the slingers, their apartments, their families, their mothers, how you step on an ounce, I mean

    how, what these gangbangers wear, what they spend their dough on, who they wake up with, colour of their damn mother's underpants, a whole tour of black

    – fast food joints, churches, jail visiting rooms, - and people – stone killers, outsize wheelerdealers, oily preachers, angsty thin wore down mothers, this white Jewish guy does all that? Nah. Toss him.

    - Mazilli, you're going on appearances. In fact I now perceive, the scales have fallen from my fucking eyes, that you're one of those racist cops I have heard of. You think the perp who did Clockers has had to be black himself. You gonna tell me next that white boys can't sing the blues. You never heard of Dusty Springfield, the Righteous Brothers, never heard of Eric Clapton…

    - I got no idea who those people are. But okay, it'll make you happy, let's do this Richard Price, see if it's our Richard Price.

    He shrugs. They open the door to the interview room.

    Klein : Way I see it, Richard, we're about the only friends you got right now.

    Price : Yeah, with respect, it's my constitutional right to doubt that. Look, I'll make it simple - I wrote all those novels, all of them. Sure I did. And there's more you don't even know about. I could show you where to find em. I could take you there. But I never wasted any damn reader's time. That's God damned defamation. Who's sayin this shit?

    Klein : Okay Richard,

    make it simple for

    . What you have here in each of these long novels are slight tales cranked up to elephantine proportions like, you know,

    Each one concerns a simple plotline – who shot Darryl Adams? why is this guy confessing to it when he didn't do it? Or what happened when this lady's car got carjacked and her baby was in it? And in the end, after 700 pages, the solution, resolution, what have you, comes down to a banal twist of circumstance, a common misapprehension, oh I shoulda realised back on page 120 that this actually meant that and not that, blah blah, and certainly nothing which warrants slogging the reader through these interminable pages. Your damn long novels are monstrous sledgehammers cracking itty tiny nuts. You're wasting readers' time.

    Mazilli : And you're a one trick pony, Price. These three books? They're essentially the same thing. Read one, why read another one?

    Price : I want to call my lawyer.

    Klein : Now why'd you wanna do that, we were getting along like a house on fire.

    Price : Lawyer. Now!

    ***

    Detective Klein and Detective Mazilli continue their conversation outside the interview room.

    - Now do you believe me?

    - Okay, he's our Richard Price. What do I know from modern crime literature anyways.

    - We lost him.

    - Yeah. We did. But he wasn't gonna cop for it. He really doesn't think he's wasted anbody's time. 1700 pages…

    - Although, to be fair, he is very good on the power certain individuals hold over others in the drug underworld.

    - True that, but not just there, your Rodney Little figure in Clockers could be encountered in any school playground, any local political party, he's the bully we all fear. And yet how hard is that fear to explain to outsiders? They'll say – why didn't you just walk away and keep walking? He is excellent on showing all of that. Do you remember how he has Rodney Little explain to Strike how if he, Rodney, takes a hundred dollar bill and nails it onto a tree on JFK and leaves it there, after a year it'll still be there, whereas if Strike did the same, what do you think would happen? That's cause people know who Rodney Little is.

    - Also, he's brilliant in showing throughout Clockers the vapourous risings and fallings of all these visions of a life outside the clocker ghetto that Strike keeps imagining for himself – all these alternatives, they rise up like chimera and fade away when the next cruel ineluctability crashes into his life and they leave but not one trace.

    - So what ya think – four stars?

    - No, three. I coulda watched six ball games, time it took me to get through this damn Clockers.

  • Rebbie

    Rocco Klein, a tough New Jersey homicide detective, is on the hunt to discover who really killed a local drug dealer in a diner. The brother of a rival drug dealer admits to it, but soon cracks start to surface and Klein figures out that all is not as it seems.

    This a bare bones, gritty urban story that makes you feel like you're right there watching what happens like a fly on the wall. It's definitely for fans of The Wire or Law & Order. There's not a lot of fluff or romance.

    It's a dark but

    Rocco Klein, a tough New Jersey homicide detective, is on the hunt to discover who really killed a local drug dealer in a diner. The brother of a rival drug dealer admits to it, but soon cracks start to surface and Klein figures out that all is not as it seems.

    This a bare bones, gritty urban story that makes you feel like you're right there watching what happens like a fly on the wall. It's definitely for fans of The Wire or Law & Order. There's not a lot of fluff or romance.

    It's a dark but realistic depiction of life on the mean streets of an American city.

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