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Dead Boys: Stories

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  330 ratings  ·  63 reviews
These hard-hitting, deeply felt stories follow straight arrows and outlaws, have-it-alls and outcasts, as they take stock of their lives and missteps and struggle to rise above their turbulent pasts. A salesman re-examines his tenuous relationship with his sister after she is brutally attacked. A house painter plans a new life for his family as he plots his last bank robbe...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 14th 2007 by Little, Brown and Company
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 710)
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Justin Evans

I am a white man. I am almost certainly under-employed. I once had success with women, but I have now fallen into loneliness. I often fantasize about sleeping with women I will never approach. If I don't do this, I sleep with prostitutes. In any case, I have women problems. My friends aren't really friends, just other people sharing my immediate space. I have a tendency to use metaphors or analogies which are, to put it mildly, hackneyed. Moon, milk, blood, water, dripping. "The sun... sliced in...more
I read this on a five hour flight to Boston and it was hands down the best choice I could have made to while away the hours--fantastic writing, gritty realism, imperfect yet sympathetic characters struggling to find love and happiness in Southern California (quite a feat for anyone who's tried, if you've lived there you know what I mean). LA is the perfect backdrop to a lot of these stories--boulevard of broken dreams and all that. And Lange is just so damn good at including seemingly insignific...more
May 14, 2010 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alan by: short review
Well I read 'Dead Girls' earlier this year and have to balance it out.

In these stories of LA every fucker's fucked. They're feckless, fickle, failures, all the fs. They're fighters and schemers, two or three timers having breakdowns or psychotic episodes. All first person male pov. Not much that is good happens. In 'Long Lost' for example, not only does a boy who has hitched a lift survive an attempt at rape from the driver (A few miles down the road he started in. "You like cock? You sure look...more
Patrick O'Neil
Richard Lange's writing can get a little dark. There's a lot of tension with characters and their interactions. The situations and scenes are bleak and it never looks like they're ever going to get better. Los Angeles' grittier neighborhoods are his backdrop. The working class, or maybe it's better to say the not working class are his subject matter. Dope fiends, drunks, tweekers, losers, stalkers, paranoids, and pantie gropers are some of the characters he chronicles. Failed relationships, wast...more
Being a resident of Los Angeles now, I was drawn to this collection of short stories by LA writer Richard Lange when I came across it in a local bookstore. Each one takes place in this city of broken dreams, and each one chronicles a different hard-luck protagonist, down on his luck (always a his, never a her), trying to salvage something from a life that's been mostly tough.

Lange's blue-collar-wizened, truncated prose voice, drawing heavily from Raymond Carver, isn't exactly original, but it's...more
Two recent story recent story collections represent a particular strain of American short story writing represented by master such as Flannery O’Connor and Raymond Carver and also the harsh viewpoint on American life found in Dashiell Hammett, James M Cain, and Nathaniel West. These two collections are Knockemstiff by Donald ray Pollock and Dead Boys by Richard Lange. Set in the wildly disparate environments of low rent L.A. and the hollow of Knockemstiff, Ohio. One urban and one rural but both...more
The first two stories in this collection are jaw-droppingly amazing, and there's lots more incredible ones to follow. This guy knows how to hone in on details, establish setting, and voice. The only thing is that every story is first person. You want to read it straight through and you do, but then stories start running together, and no matter who's telling the story, it sounds like the same dude. Still, this is an unforgettable book.
Dec 25, 2007 Matthew rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Raymond Carver, Denis Johnson, Bukowski even
a great debut collection... Having spent the last 9 years of my life living in California as a relatively young person (I am now 34) there is plenty here that I identified with. As mentioned in a few of the other reviews the stories do seem to blend into one another from an overall narrative tone... but Lange's style is still dynamic. Definitely a writer I plan to keep on the radar.
Gotta love the syringe spinning slow circles in the swimming pool of the shitty motel.
"Gritty Realism" is a term that's tossed around a lot, most of the time the label has no business being affixed to the book it's slapped on, but in this case, it fits like a glove. All these bestselling mystery and thriller writers with "gritty" characters could learn a thing or two from Lange's blistered characters. They seem so authentic. How the hell do I know? Because I'm down and out. I'm living the dream, baby. Lange has been down in the depths too. He knows what it's like living in a crap...more
The twelve first person narrators in Dead Boys are not bad men by any stretch of the imagination, but they're men who are down on their luck-- financially, emotionally, spiritually--and the stories are about their struggles to make sense of the world they live, or better, survive in. Each story takes place in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, and the city plays a crucial role in nearly all every story. These men could live anywhere, in any city, but that they live in L.A. makes all the diff...more
Brett Starr
"Tales of L.A."

There exist certain wildflowers that must be burned in order to bloom, and who's to say I'm not one of them? - (pg. 169, Dead Boys)

Good book of short stories!

The title of the book "Dead Boys", is the title of the last story in the book, but this book could easily be called "Tales of L.A."!

"Dead Boys" has 12 stories in all, the stories all take place primarily in or around Los Angeles!

Lange's writing is excellent and each story leaves you wanting to know more about the characte...more
Julie Carroll
The author of this book, Richard Lange, is the boyfriend of one of my best friends and favorite people EVER, Kim Turner. Richard worked at Hunter's Books in Westwood when Kim & I & some other friends were roommates at UCLA. All of my roommates had a crush on him.
I knew this book would be good before I read it. Some of the reviews were unbelievably good. I think someone mentioned both William Faulkner and Raymond Chandler together when describing it. Of course, when you read something li...more
J. Mark
Man! This one got under my skin!

After reading the first story about a sister in potential trouble in San Diego, I wasn't sure I could continue. It was killing me softly and getting me VERY anxious! Then I realized that I like books to do that to me.

Lange paints a portrait of L.A. and its untervolk, its broken people, that keeps far enough away from romanticizing the dread, the redemption, the crap, that it hits hard and hits home. The number of people that compare him to Raymond Carver is goin...more
Ben Brackett
This is the best short story collection I've read (outside of George Saunders) in a long time. Lange doesn't waste a word with short and direct sentences. He's also got a way of conveying complex feelings and emotions in a single sentence that doesn't sound corny that is a very rare gift.

The one thing that holds this back a little is all the stories are about very similar men who are having a hard time coping. More than makes up for the lack of range though by making you care about all of them.
John Seyfarth
I read lots of short stories, and Lange's collection contains some of the best stories I've read recently. He writes first-person accounts of people down on their luck on the streets of Los Angeles. The stories are off-putting at times, but there are moments of warm sentiment as well, as in this example from "Culver City:"

Poor old dog, poor old man. I have to move things along, though,
because who knows what the kid's up to out in the truck. When Mr. C
stops talking for a second to thumb the t...more
Cory Gaskins
I've read two stories out from this book, due to the positive reviews this book got on this site. My god. I really detested this book mostly because of its insincere storytelling technique - the kind that gets on The New Yorker because the author complains about the loneliness one can feel... The stories in this book simply list "depressing" events one after another, then add random symbolism, without involving much logic. I am tired of reading one short story after another that read all the sam...more
This guy can write the hell out of the English language. That's the upside.

The down side is that this is the most coherent collection I've ever seen, which means that nearly every single story (and there are many) is about a down-and-out sensitive loser guy in a roach motel or crappy walkup apartment in Los Angeles. There are many alcoholics, many druggies, and a few women of ill repute. After a while you feel like you're being beaten about the head and can't take another second of misery.

But no...more
Sep 19, 2007 Fiasco rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ray Carver fans
Lange is an old friend from USC and the best writer I know. He stuck to the craft while some of us (ahem) crept off to write non-fiction, and his dedication shows in this collection of his short stories. I'm still working my way through it (I tend to read a number of books at the same time so it takes me a while to finish any of them) but fans of Ray Carver will be delighted with his simple yet poetic prose. Richard captures a certain aspect of L.A. living like no other writer, and his ability t...more
Justin Sorbara-Hosker
Dark. Its like someone threw Nathanael West, Bukowski, and Chandler in a blender - along with any other LA misanthrope I may not be thinking of right now. Carver on a crank binge? Not as commercial as the first thing of his I read (Angel Baby), & short stories are a tough sell - but there's only one note in this collection & he hits it again and again. Obviously a criticism you can level at more than one writer, but in a short story collection it is kind of amplified if you read through...more
Loved it, despite the lack of variation on protagonist voices. I mean, who could go past a line describing a woman at the supermarket shuffling "past in slippers that used to be pink and fluffy but now resemble dirty drowned kittens."
Drew Jameson
I enjoyed this a lot at first, but it never once took flight. Lange does a nice job capturing the voice of a hard-living, hard-boiled, down-and-out LA dead-beat (insert Chandler-ish cliche here), but he never brings out any surprising nuance or innovative technique or even approach. I felt like I was being lead aimlessly through his world, rather than being guided purposefully and expertly from one fascinating sight to another, towards a satisfying or revelatory conclusion. Like trying to make a...more
Keith Rosson
Definitely a solid outing, and Lange's sentences are frequently brutal and gorgeous. My problem with the collection seems to be a recurrent theme with other reviews here: the book is pretty repetitive. All of the stories mine similar themes, locales and voice, and all twelve of them are written from the first person perspective. That lack of diversity really starts to bog the stories down. Individually, there's some really great work here, but midway through DEAD BOYS, I felt like I'd already me...more
Jake Faber
If I could give it four and a half stars I would. Im not sure if I would consider it amazing, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Richard Lange does a wonderful job of depicting various lives tainted by drugs, alcohol, and broken relationships. His very "urban" stories build upon emotions that form a sentimental connection between the reader and protagonist allowing the reader a different perspective on what life can be, demonstrating how easily an individual can take a different path.
It's a short story collection, set mostly in the L.A. area. Men are the protagonists - down-on-their-luck men, flawed men, struggling men. There are women too - women who care and women who won't, women who have it together and women who don't. It's L.A. without the glamor, love without the romance. It's a cynical collection, for the most part. Even the rare happy ending seems iffy. So it's probably not for most people, though I give it 4 stars out of 5.
What a great book of stories, the best I've read in a long time. All these men are trying to be good, trying to be happy or stable and fail along the way in big and small ways. Not a bad story in the bunch. It's best to read these stories a couple of days apart as they are pretty similar and run together in one's memory. But when you are reading them you are entranced. I look forward to more from him, a novel would be great.
First assigned reading of the semester, and a good start. A strong voice and attention to craft carries the collection, so we can forgive the many "jump cuts" (guy has a degree in film, no surprise) within individual stories, and the homogeneous quality of the work as a whole. Twelve stories in total, six that nearly blew me away and six that are pretty decent. All in all, looking forward to what's next for Mr. Lange.
Kim Fay
Rarely does contemporary fiction stun me. Winter's Tale was the last book that took my breath away. In Dead Boys, I could feel the hollow space that will never be filled inside every character. Although it's a collection of short stories, I read it as it if was a novel, within the course of two nights. This book is not precious (sorry New Yorker story writers). This book has value.
Jun 12, 2014 Ray rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
This is the first book by Lange that I've read at the suggestion of a writer friend that lives in L.A. There's not much that I can add here that hasn't already been address in other reviews. . I laughed out loud at the passage where how most white males go through a Neil Young phase because at least one of his songs "validates" some mistakes they've made in their lives.
Jan 16, 2013 Amy added it
I found this writer to be a mix of T.C. Boyle and Raymond Carver. At the end of the book there is an interview with him and, lo and behold, he actually took fiction classes from Boyle. I don't necessarily agree with his justification for why so many of his stories are so open-ended, but these were overall solid and conveyed the sense of place--L.A.
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Author of Sweet Nothing, Angel Baby, This Wicked World, and Dead Boys.
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