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Freedomland: an excerpt

  A young mother, Brenda Martin, comes stumbling into the emergency room of the Dempsy Medical Center, bleeding from her hands and virtually incoherent. It's soon discovered that she is the victim of a carjacking and her young son, asleep in the back seat, is missing. A frantic search for the missing boy inflames racial tensions in the neighboring fictional New Jersey cities of Dempsy and Gannon. Police cordon off the Armstrong Houses, the public housing project in Dempsy where they believe the black suspect is most likely from, and fear and suspicion began to spiral out of control. Detective Lorenzo Council, a resident of Armstrong, is assigned the case and begins to suspect that Brenda is not telling him everything she knows. Jesse Haus, a local newspaper reporter, also suspects Brenda of involvement and cajoles her way into helping Lorenzo with the case while getting an inside scoop on what is quickly becoming a media frenzy. What follows is a epic drama that is simply electrifying.

Richard Price is a modern day Dickens (or Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, take your pick), an author who illuminates the lives of our post-industrial dispossessed and excels at portraying the reality of life in America today. Freedomland ambitiously confronts America's race problem head on and presents the familiar anew, forcing the reader to rethink beliefs and perceptions. Not afraid to show moral ambiguities, Price hangs in the gray areas and tells searing truths. His deftly rendered characters are complex, unpredictable, and full of soul. Their razor sharp dialogue sings because the author possesses an incredible ear for the poetry of urban vernacular. If it is a writer's job to reflect the society in which he lives, then Richard Price is one of the most important writers working today.

In this issue of Bold Type, we feature an interview with the legendary author of The Wanderers, Bloodbrothers, and Clockers, two incredible readings by the author, as well as a powerful scene from Freedomland in which Lorenzo has taken Brenda to a decrepit theme park called Freedomtown to escape the media frenzy that has engulfed Dempsy and to try to get her to open up to him.

Photo of Richard Price copyright © Ralph Gibson

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