March 13, 2001

Famed C.U. Novelist Draws Literary Fans

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A mixed audience of about 60 students, faculty and Ithacans packed the A. D. White House yesterday for a sneak peak at an unfinished novel by Richard Price ’71. Price is best known for the novels Clockers, for which he co-wrote the screenplay with Spike Jones, and The Color of Money, which earned him an Academy Award nomination. He is now at Cornell as a guest professor for creative writing.

Prof. William Lamar Herrin, English, introduced Price as “a writer who straddles two generations.” The first generation is epitomized by Thomas Wolfe, who took the writing community of New York City by storm, Herrin said. The second generation of writers has ambitions of writing screenplays in Los Angeles.

Price read for an hour from the second draft of a novel that he tentatively calls Othello Road. The novel is about Ray Gold, a successful 43-year-old Hollywood writer who returns to his childhood home in New Jersey to teach creative writing at his old high school and reconnect with his daughter, Ruby. Soon after returning to New Jersey, he is nearly beaten to death in his apartment. The heart of the novel is about how Nereece, a female friend from his childhood who has since become a police detective, investigates the beating, which for unknown reasons Ray refuses to talk about.

The highlight of Price’s reading was the stories that the characters tell each other about their troubled lives. The stories are told with the earthy, self-depricating humor that result from the passage of time and the pride of living through hardships.

The audience members’ laughter and smiles indicated their enjoyment of Price’s reading.

After the reading, Suman Gunguli grad admitted to being impressed by the frank humor and realistic dialogue in Price’s writing.

“I’d really like to read this when it comes out,” he said.

Others praised Price for his abilities in the classroom.

Rachel Somerstein ’02, a student in Price’s creative writing class said, “He’s not afraid to disagree with anyone in class, and he’s not afraid to have anyone disagree with him. He’s a noble