First of all, the narrator was AMAZING! He brought the book ALIVE with his ability to make you "see" all the characters in a scene. He made each character sound different and even did a great job on women's voices. Kudos to Ron McLarty!
Now for the book: For the first half,I kept feeling like quitting. It is so much a "man's" story that I couldn't relate. From a woman's point of view, the men's mismanagement of their lives, both practical and emotional, just grated on my nerves. Their idiotic abuse of their health (hard-drinking, smoking, not sleeping, taking painkillers etc), their stubbornness, their incomprehension of the women in their lives, their gambling, their cheating, etc., - it was all so foreign to me that I despaired of ever "getting into" the book. Furthermore, the town itself was depressing - the poverty, the unemployment, the falling-down buildings, the decay... It made me feel sad and hopeless.
However, I persisted, and, like other readers, I became fond of the characters and loved them in their flawed beauty. I went along for a reluctant ride, and like the residents of the town, kept wishing for an escape, some hope, maybe a salvation...
Finally, the journey neared its end, and I was hoping for a revelation to put everything into perspective, but that never happened. The ending is as low-key as it gets! The book seemingly could have stopped anywhere at all and had the same effect. Things never wrapped up! You get the feeling that all these crazy people will keep doing what they're doing - just like the rest of us! They are chained to their treadmill of life.
That said, I recognize the beauty and the genius of the writing. It is truly a work of great literature, and I will definitely be "reading" this author again. (Straight Man is my next choice from him.). This was a book of substance, a dissection of life, and the kind of book that always fascinates me - a delicious voyerism
I must also mention the humour in the book. There were several scenes that made me giggle. There was a kind of Larry David humour to the drunken interactions in the bar, or Sully's gentle handling of the "old ladies" in the story. I can see why this book was made into a movie - which I would like to watch, if I can find it!
If I had it to do over again, I still would, but there was effort involved in forcing myself to finish. Maybe that's what great literature is - requiring an effort to expand your knowledge of the breadth of human emotion.
This has been a wonderful listening experiencing. The story and the characters were captivating. Can't say enough good things about this novel and my only regret is that it has ended. Humor is difficult to write but but Mr. Russo is a master. One of the best novels I've ever read. Lived it!
I really had great expectations for this book. Years ago read Empire Falls and loved it. I have listened to other books narrated by (and written by) this narrator, and he's great. I love getting into a long novel about small town life, interesting characters, and I had great hopes when I started listening to this one, especially after reading the stellar reviews. Unfortunately, I'm now giving up, with only four hours left to go . . . I keep trying to stick with it, but I just can't do it. The characters are static, the plot is just not interesting . . . the gruff voice the narrator uses for Sully, the main character, while authentic, is grating to listen to for so many hours. Sully has a lot of dialog! I just can't get excited about listening to old men (and I'm in their age group) talking to each other at work, at the cafe, at the bar, in the car, in the truck, etc. etc. etc. etc. I keep hoping Sully's relationship with his landlady, with his son, with his grandson, with his co-workers, etc. etc., will CHANGE, and maybe this will happen in the final four hours of the book, but I realize that I just can't bring myself to listen to four more hours. I'm disappointed, but being honest. I'm sorry, Sully!
Yes, twice already!
Sully and Will.
Sully, of course, but Mrs Beryl was essential to the story. Loved her!!
Sorry, but I thought the film was a waste of my time. Maybe if I had not read the book I would have enjoyed it, However, the film only touched on this story. I was looking forward to the film. Paul Newman was the perfect choice for the Sully character. But it was only a teaser. If you have seen the movie, don't think you have "read the book". Not by a long shot!
"Nobody's Fool" was one I'll remember for a long time. Not the best, but the characters tend to linger more than most. The banter and baiting are clever and the narrative is touching.
I loved the scene where Sully and his son are stealing the snowblower from his employer's lot. The sheer suspense and yet laugh-out-loud humor of the scene are really great comedy.
Hattie, the addled old woman who owned the diner, kept cropping up to point up Sully's actual rough tenderness.
Of course Donald Sullivan, or Sully, was the one to watch as he grew and changed even though past his fifties.
I did have a little trouble catching changes in who was speaking since I don't always hear some sound ranges well and there were a number of men for whom a gruff or rough tone was a part of who they were.
Spreadhead and Biblioholic.
This is one of the best books I listened to this year. I had thoroughly enjoyed the movie and was worried that Ron McLarty's Sully would not equal up to Paul Newman's. This was a needless fear. McLarty came through as he always does, offering up Sully in a voice that conveys the same witty, resigned gruffness so central to the character of John Sullivan. Another element of the movie I loved, the full tableaux of interesting characters in the town of North Bath, is (not surprisingly) more fully and deeply explored in the novel. Add to this a few key events in the novel that were either left out of the movie or drastically altered and the experience is fresh even for someone who has seen the film multiple times. Bravo!
Absolutely! I would listen to anything Ron McLarty reads and anything Richard Russo writes and that about says it all.
Real people living real lives good and bad. I have known them all.
The last "download" of the three. Buy the book and the listener will know why.
Once In Love With Sully
Having lived in upstate NY and rural PA all my life, these people are as genuine as it gets. Sully is your annoying neighbor, uncle and yes, perhaps father. One moment you think of strangling him and the next you want to bring him in and fry a hamburger. Warning! If you do not understand men and love them stay away from this book. Richard Russo has their banter down to a fare thee well.
I love to listen or read books...I have always got one or two books on the go at any one time. I am happily married, and live a quiet life.
I love Ron McLarty's voice and the way he tells the story, but I was very disappointed in this book, its hum drum to the point I would fall asleep listening to it. I never finished it.
Insightful, fun, heartwarming
When I don't realize someone is reading to me, I consider the performance very well done
The moments when the characters (in particular Sully and his landlady) faced themselves "in all their glory" and made the choice to keep going, but with a deeper appreciation of those around them
Richard Russo has such ability to take the "invisible" people of society (the old lady in the big house, the bums at the diner counter or bar) and creates rich, interesting characters with incredible depth and background. He subtly equalizes all the members of our community as beings worthy of our attention, appreciation, and respect
This would be one of the most memorable books I've listened to out of almost 300...because I kept laughing outloud...bursting in to jolts of surprised laughter and looking a little crazy while listening on the bus!!
Sully is a character who just grows on you...it is like a deeper journey with one of the characters from "Grumpy Old Men." This character just continued to surprise me with his reactions and one liners to the very end.
This is definately a "character" novel...not a real plot driven story. Never the less the characterization (and the audio narration in particular) was so well developed with such perfect humour, that my enjoyment and shock at this character's personality just kept growing. Have to say a little disappointed with the end of the story, but still a very entertaining listen!