Richard Price Finds His Pseudonym for ‘The Whites’ Annoying
By ALEXANDRA ALTER FEB. 10, 2015 NEW YORK TIMES
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“I knew how to dress down, but I didn’t know how to write down,” said Richard Price, who wrote “The Whites” under the pseudonym Harry Brandt.
Richard Price is a skilled literary ventriloquist, with a pitch-perfect ear for deadbeat street slang and sardonic cop banter. But when he tried impersonating another writer, with the aim of writing a fast-paced, plot-driven crime novel under the pen name Harry Brandt, he couldn’t quite pull it off.
His new novel, “The Whites,” about a New York City detective haunted by a mistake in his past and a criminal who got away, took him four years to write instead of the roughly four months he had planned on, and proved just as intricate as the sprawling urban portraits in his celebrated novels “Lush Life” and “Clockers.”
In spite of himself, Richard Price wrote a Richard Price novel.
“You realize you only know one way to write,” Mr. Price said during an interview at his home, a five-story Harlem brownstone built in the mid-1880s, where he lives with his wife, the novelist Lorraine Adams. “I knew how to dress down, but I didn’t know how to write down.”
Mr. Price had good reasons for going undercover for “The Whites,” which will be published next Tuesday by Henry Holt. He wanted to inoculate himself against literary critics who might sneer at him for writing a slicker, more commercial book. He was already late on delivering a separate novel, set in Harlem, that he owes a different publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and hoped to hide the fact that he was moonlighting. And he wanted to see if he could write a stripped-down, heavily plotted best seller, without sacrificing his literary credentials.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for Richard Price fans, it didn’t work out that way.
“I thought I was going to write according to a certain number of rules for the genre, then the rules went to hell,” Mr. Price said. “Everything seemed to beg for more complexity.”
“The Whites” centers on Billy Graves, a middle-aged New York City detective who works the overnight shift on the felony squad, and who’s still obsessed with a suspect who escaped charges in a triple murder case. The novel weaves together multiple plotlines, as Billy and his old detective buddies stew over past crimes that haunt them, and Billy’s own family comes under threat from a stalker with a grudge.
Have not read any Richard Price, but find his dilemma interesting. Imagine Spillane writing a Romance. I know he did children's books, and now I'm even wondering how they came out. Interesting problem, voice.
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