Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
Having seen (and loved) the movie numerous times, I have put off reading the book for a very long time, concerned that it would not live up to my expectations. Having Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy and Bruce Willis permanently etched in my mind’s eye as the main characters, it’s impossible to separate my response to the book from my feelings about the film. To my great delight, Sully in the book is every bit as ironic, rascally and endearing as Newman portrayed him, so my fears were groundless. The other residents of North Bath are fully developed, bringing in more characters than the film did, and significantly changing others.
This is very much a character study. Don’t look for action, mystery, or broad comedy. What you will get is a well-paced slice of life, saturated with subtle and ironic humor, that illuminates what makes people tick in a small dying town. All of the characters are flawed, many to the point of being unlikable. But Russo gives them enough dimension to allow us at least some sympathy for what has brought them to where they are now. Fully understanding the story behind Sully’s relationship with his dad makes make you wonder why he is merely philosophically dysfunctional instead of stark raving mad. His humor and native intelligence makes him one of the best characters I have read in contemporary American literature. I would give anything to be able to meet him for a beer at the White Horse just to shoot the breeze. I suspect I would fall in love with him. As Toby observed, he’s a man among men. Only unlike her, I mean it as a compliment.
I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
This book with it's flawed main character has it's ups and downs but overall it is a story of the dysfunction and redemption in all of us human beings. Our ability to love and hate is played out in this book beautifully.. But this book is so much more. It reminded me a bit of Stephen Kings folksy tone and even though at times for me it got bogged down, I finished this book feeling sad it ended. And I must give the narrator kudos, what an amazing job, Ron McLarty!!!
and his town and most of its people. Plot or not, Russo made them all come alive, and I enjoyed every minute and was sorry to see the story end.
I wasn't wild about McLarty's choice of voice for Sully ( Paul Newman will always be Sully in my mind!), but it's still a superb job of narrating.
Long on character development and short on plot, this book held my interest in anticipation of some dramatic twist which unfortunately never occurred. I never really lost interest but I also never felt compelled to keep listening to see what was going to happen. I could leave it for days at a time without feeling compelled to keep plowing through it.
How was I going to possibly relate to or care about Sully, a 60 year old, unmotivated, self-focused boor and his small town - seemingly so different and removed from my life - for a 24 hour "read"? I was told in one these reviews that Russo writes like Wally Lamb, one of my favorites - so I launched in. Not a bad comparison of authors. Russo takes us on a pleasant, meandering journey through the town of North Bath, New York and by the end of the story we get to know the characters of this town intimately, and guess what? I like this blue collar town; it reminds me a lot of my own. And as for Sully; he reminds me alot of me.
As a former English major I would have scoffed at anyone listening to audio books. Worse than Cliff Notes I would have said. Now as a parent and working in sales with hours spent in the car I must confess a passion for the spoken word and Richard Russo can not be beat I have "read" Empire Falls,
and Straight Man "my favorite" I find his characters so full of compassion and humanity that by the end of his story I want to meet these people to follow their lives. He reminds me of Steinbeck with his roots in lives of the average
man, woman, and child. Flawed like us all yet with
the determination to move forward. I would strongly endorse this man's words; If you are humble enough to remember your own roots, or interested enough to spend time in another's
shoes this story is wonderful.
Richard Russo is an amazing writer. One of my favorites. He writes fantastic stories about fictional chararcters with real life dilemas. Truly a master at his craft.
This is the story about a rather obnoxious person - a handyman or dayworker who seems to do his best to destroy his own life, but always comes out on top. Life is full of people like him, but very few are as stable and humourous as this person. I grew very fond of him. In fact, I'd like to read more about him, and this as good a grade as a writer can get from his reader.
Finished listening to it the first time and went on to listen to it from the beginning again! It's like a song that you can't get enough of.
Donald Sullivan (Sully) is the Don Quixote of upstate New York. I loved this one so much I listened to it twice, which is a first for an audiobook.