© 1993 Richard Russo; (P) 2003 Random House, Inc.
"Russo is a master craftsman....The blue-collar heartache at the center of [his] fiction has the sheen of Dickens but the epic levity of John Irving....Nobody's Fool is a big, rambunctious novel with endless riffs and unstoppable human hopefulness." (The Boston Globe)
"...confident, assured novel sweeps the reader up in the daily life of its characters." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"A delight." (Library Journal)
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!!!
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.
This is the second of the author's books that I have listened to and enjoyed. His characters are always interesting and the dialogue witty and flows quite naturally. The only fault I had was the less than satisfying ending.
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.
I listen to about 40 books a year, and I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed a novel so much. It has been years. I had read this novel many years ago, and loved it. I like to go back and listen to some of my favorite reads, and more often than not,they are not as great as they seemed when I read them. Nobody's Fool might be even better. I confess that when I saw it was 22 hours, I almost regretted the purchase, but within an hour, I was re-hooked. This is a character novel with little central plot, only subplots among the various characters in this small town in upstate New York. I usually feel the need for a central plot to drive a novel, but this was so good, I was into it right to the end. In fact, I was sad to see it end! Now I have the sequel to look forward to, very soon. The characters in this are so alive and so entertaining, I feel like I was totally a part of their world. The protagonist, Sully, a gruff 60 year old laborer, is such a great character. His landlady is his former 8th grade teacher, and she is such a classic character, too. I have read other Russo novels, and enjoyed them, but Nobody's Fool is his one home run. This book is hysterically funny, and grabbed my heart like no other novel. The narration is perfect, too.
Chicago & Indiana Scientist/Gardener/Hiker
One of Russo's best! Read it before reading Everybody's Fool. If you read it years ago read it again. It's even better the second time.
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.
"Wonderful, masterful and wholly convincing"
Wow, this book was absolutely wonderful! It's long, and so it took me an hour or so to get into it, but once it took hold it drew me right in, and by the time I started on the third part I was already regretting the fact that it was eventually going to end.
I've not read any of Richard Russo's books before, but I was blown away by his ability to create entirely sympathetic characters that I soon found myself caring about deeply. The dialogue sparkles, and I can't imagine a better reader for this particular title than Ron McLarty (whom I'd also not encountered before).
I've listened to a lot of books from Audible over the last few years, but this (along with Ender's Game) is right up there with the best I've ever heard. I've already downloaded 2 more of Richard Russo's books, and I hope they'll provide more of the same.
When this recording ended I felt almost bereaved, and that's a feeling I don't often experience at the end of a book these days. Richard Russo is a master of transforming the imagined minutiae of small-town life into something that takes you by the heart and simply doesn't let go. If you enjoy taking a peep into how other people live then rush over to the downloads page and grab it right now.
"A wonderful, charming, book.."
I downloaded this one with trepidation, as the description was so far removed from what I would normally buy. But I decided - take a chance, it's really long, so excellent value! I am SO pleased I did. The story does not have a plot per se, but the characterisation and dialogue are just wonderful. I feel like I know the protagonist and his circle of acquaintances intimately, and they are all beautifully drawn. Thoroughly recommended.
Simply brilliant, I chose this book after getting the 'recommended reads' email. I was not dissappointed. So subtly written, nothing major really happens within the story line but that is the beauty of it. Its about the relationships of the characters and the daily living in a small town. I totally fell in love with Sully, mainly thanks to the excellent narrator. I love my monthly audible credits and this is why, Im even thinking of getting the movie out on DVD. (there's a movie!!). Download this now
What a fascinating cast of characters. It perfectly captured ( what I imagine is) American small town life.
Sully is now my literary hero. Flawed, damaged, a bully yet so humane.
Well it has so no use speculating.
If you are into Audible get this title. It's long but so worthwhile.
"great story, great characters, great narration."
drove through Europe in a camper van. felt like we were driving through Maine! loved it.
"Beautifully observed story telling."
Fantastic book from the first page. The depth of character is the defining feature of Russo's art.
"A Great American Novel"
I am feeling slightly bereft because I have just finished listening to one of the best books I have ever come across. Read about the book on Amazon and Goodreads and you will find similar rave reviews. Richard Russo appears to be the best author most people have never heard of. Whilst raving about this book to my friends, many people have asked me what it is about. But if I told them it concerned a few days in the life of a 60 year old misery-guts with a bad leg and that there wasn't a great deal of action then I wouldn't be selling it very well. But this would be missing out that the book also is both highly entertaining and staggeringly good at portraying life, ageing, family dynamics, community, the clumsiness of men, friendship, lust and love.
The writing is so deftly simple but wise - it is a joy to read and every few lines you come across a wry observation or profound reflection. You get to know a large cast of small town characters and although they are all flawed and quirky, you get to like them all and care about what happens to them. It is deeply compassionate and brilliantly funny. I found myself exploding with uncontrollable belly-laughs on a number of occasions. I also felt quite tearful at times. It's a huge book - over 24 hours long in audio format. My only regret is that it wasn't twice as long. Now I don't know what to do with myself because I am afraid that the next few books I read will inevitably be disappointing. My only antidote to this may be to read another Russo book!!
Absolutely excellent reading. The dialogue is perfect. His ability to put multidimensional expression into a single utterance such as "ok" is a pleasure to witness.
If you don't know Richard Russo novels you have a treat ahead of you. This is my fourth and, yet again, despite its length, I didn't want it to finish. Sully, the 60-year old hero in this one, is not only a hopeless loser, as are most of Russo's characters, but - I won't spoil it by listing his character flaws but let's say he is not someone most of us would admire in real life. Yet Russo writes with such wit and humanity, I found myself desperately fond of old Sully and all the other no-hopers who do very little but get drunk, smoke, argue and insult each other. That is surely one of the highest achievements of a novel - to take us somewhere we wouldn't want to go and show us the good in it.
The book covers 3 generations with the majority of the attention given to the older end. It is refreshing to see the focus and sympathy given to the unattractive 80 year old Mrs Peoples, and to the younger grandparents whose sex lives Russo does not shrink from describing.
Warning if you don't like 4 letter words and crude references to parts of the anatomy, steer well clear of this.
One final comment: if you like banter and bar talk, I can't think of anyone who gets it so exactly right as Russo. (If you know of anyone else who can match it please let me know).
This is a superb narration of a beautifully crafted story. A lovely tale of flawed humanity in a declining town, packed with humour, kindness and irony. An absolute pleasure.
this book was described as storytelling at its most generous. while I enjoyed the book i found it quite difficult to listen to. the main character was quite engaging but some of the language was difficult and I found the setting hard to relate to. This is a book written by a man and the characterisation of the women felt stereotyped
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