In this slyly funny and moving novel, Richard Russo follows the unexpected operation of grace in a deadbeat, upstate New York town, and in the lives of the unluckiest of its citizens.
Like his late, beloved father, Louis Charles ("Lucy") Lynch is an optimist, though he's had plenty of reasons not to be....
In this uproarious novel, Richard Russo performs his characteristic high-wire walk between hilarity and heartbreak.
That Old Cape Magic is a novel of deep introspection and every family feeling imaginable, with a middle-aged man confronting his parents and their failed marriage and his own troubled one....
Russo's characters in these four expansive stories bear little similarity to the blue-collar citizens we're familiar with from many of his novels....
When, in 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, he is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across from the Kremlin....
Anna Kerrigan, nearly 12 years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family....
To this irresistible debut collection of short stories, Richard Russo brings the same bittersweet wit, deep knowledge of human nature, and spellbinding narrative gifts that distinguish his novels....
After eight commanding works of fiction, the Pulitzer Prize winner now turns to memoir in a hilarious, moving, and always surprising account of his life....
It's 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson - college professor, stalled writer - has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn't seen her in decades, not since she abandoned the family....
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking....
Anything Is Possible explores the whole range of human emotion through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others....
At its heart lies the marriage of Peter and Maureen Tarnopol, a gifted young writer and the woman who wants to be his muse but who instead is his nemesis....
A profound, startling, and beautifully crafted debut novel, The Sympathizer is the story of a man of two minds, someone whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties....
In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry-blonde classmate with a gift for acting....
The first comprehensive historical biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of the Little House on the Prairie book series....
At 36, Quoyle, a third-rate newspaperman, is wrenched violently out of his workaday life when his two-timing wife gets her just desserts....
People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink....
Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2002
Richard Russo - from his first novel, Mohawk, to his most recent, Straight Man - has demonstrated a peerless affinity for the human tragicomedy, and with this stunning new novel he extends even further his claims on the small-town, blue-collar heart of the country.
Dexter County, Maine, and specifically the town of Empire Falls, has seen better days, and for decades, in fact, only a succession from bad to worse. One by one, its logging and textile enterprises have gone belly-up, and the once vast holdings of the Whiting clan (presided over by the last scion’s widow) now mostly amount to decrepit real estate. The working classes, meanwhile, continue to eke out whatever meager promise isn’t already boarded up.
Miles Roby gazes over this ruined kingdom from the Empire Grill, an opportunity of his youth that has become the albatross of his daily and future life. Called back from college and set to work by family obligations - his mother ailing, his father a loose cannon - Miles never left home again. Even so, his own obligations are manifold: a pending divorce; a troubled younger brother; and, not least, a peculiar partnership in the failing grill with none other than Mrs. Whiting. All of these, though, are offset by his daughter, Tick, whom he guides gently and proudly through the tribulations of adolescence.
A decent man encircled by history and dreams, by echoing churches and abandoned mills, by the comforts and feuds provided by lifelong friends and neighbors, Miles is also a patient, knowing guide to the rich, hardscrabble nature of Empire Falls: fathers and sons and daughters, living and dead, rich and poor alike. Shot through with the mysteries of generations and the shattering visitations of the nation at large, it is a social novel of panoramic ambition, yet at the same time achingly personal. In the end, Empire Falls reveals our worst and best instincts, both our most appalling nightmares and our simplest hopes, with all the vision, grace and humanity of truly epic storytelling.
This is one of those books that holds your interest because you grow to care about the characters and just can't wait to find out what happens to them.
The reader does a marvelous job.
I took it from the car to the house and back to the car and I wish it had gone on longer.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
Every book written by Richard Russo have been excellent. About simple everyday life, and folks we all recognize, yet every phrase turns your head.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
When Thoreau observed that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” he may have just passed through Empire Falls and visited the Empire Grill. The inhabitants of this economically depressed town live with the unlikely hope that something good might happen to restore prosperity and jobs that had evaporated with the closing of the mills years before. Miles Roby, manager of the Empire Grill personifies this hope, as he believes that the former owner of the mills, and still owner of the grill, will leave the grill to him upon her death as reward for his two decades of service. This belief is how he justifies the stagnation of his life and his refusal to strive for change. Problem is, this tyrannical woman is of the breed of those who are just too mean to die. Still, he is a good man doing the best he can with a deck stacked against him. Flashbacks reveal a bit at a time how he, and others in his sphere, came to where they are today,creating (if there is such a thing) an intimate saga that covers both a very few months and several decades. Russo explores destiny, sacrifice, and penitence vs power and free will, and how love (in all of its forms) shades the decisions that shape our lives.
Darker than “Nobody’s Fool”, Russo still shows his genius at creating flesh and blood characters that, with few exceptions, are neither cloyingly good nor irredeemably bad, taking time to let us see day by day life from several characters’ POV. Russo’s writing is liberally sprinkled with his ironic humor and plain common sense that lets us see the lighter side of the human condition. Though Miles is the central character, Russo allows the supporting cast just the right amount of “screen time” to fully incorporate them into the bigger picture,
For readers who like quick reads and thrilling action, this may not satisfy. This is not a fast food book, it is a sit down meal, like the good yankee pot roast prepared by the parish priest’s housekeeper. Ron McLarty’s reading adds to the quality of this selection. Well recommended.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
This is the second time I've read Empire Falls. The first time was several years ago - I'd forgotten what a wonderful story it is. The characters are just like people in the small town where I live. This book is the perfect example of how our choices can make us or break us.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sip swirl and breath. Repeat. Recharge your soul with this as from a glass dark and deep with all the beautiful truths and failures of being human.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I like this one a lot. I'm working my way through the pulitzer Prize winners . This a wonderful Vue into the lives of the different characters twisting and turning it's fun
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Where does Empire Falls rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
It would be among the top ten.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Miles Roby. He was the center of the story. If you didn't like Miles you wouldn't like the story. However his father was great fun and the narrator did a splendid job with him.
Have you listened to any of Ron McLarty’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
I have not, but I will be looking for more narrated by him. He was probably the best narrator I have heard and I have listened to some I thought could not be beat.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Empire Falls is primarily a character-driven book and the plot, where it becomes important, is more of a let’s-see-what-happens-next variety rather than one where there is a definitive goal or outcome to be achieved. Mostly the story revolves around Miles Roby who is a well-meaning bumbler of a man and while he doesn’t generate any strong emotion for me, he was someone to root for. I didn’t feel strongly about him in any way and it mirrors his own view of himself and his circumstances. Until the very end, Miles never seemed to feel enough about his own life to run it on his own terms. He felt a duty to live for others; his mother, Mrs. Whiting, his daughter and Empire Falls itself.
Besides Miles, another focus character is Tick, his daughter. I liked the way she put her decisions together, admitting that maybe she doesn’t know everything yet, but also is pretty sure of the things she does know. Like many mother-daughter-grandmother relationships, she is closer to the elder of the two and holds her mother in contempt for her relationship with the sliver fox, and can you blame her?, I mean, please. She hasn’t yet recognized her parents as people first, parents second.
At first, the frenetic ending seemed rushed, but then I realized that it was brewing for quite some time. Mrs. Whiting, for me, became harder and harder to like as I at first did, and her heartless treatment of everyone around her got to be disgusting. Janine’s capitulation to what she thinks she really needs turns out to be not so wonderful. Miles gets into it with Jimmy Minty. Tick gets out of it with his son, Zach, but Zach’s athletic career has taken a detour into unsportsmanlike conduct and bad public opinion. The missing grandmother and finally, John’s descent into violence bring the crescendo to a roar. There’s so much more to this novel than what I’ve described here and so I can’t really do it justice. The characters and their situations will remain in my mind for a while yet and that for me, is a mark of a good book and a good reading experience.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Into the universe of these wonderful characters and story by Richard Russo and the subtlety brilliant performance of Ron McLarty.
I want more!
I read this book several years ago and liked it. I liked it as much or more the second time around.
If you could sum up Empire Falls in three words, what would they be?
heartwarming, exciting, sad
What did you like best about this story?
The minutiae of small town America, mixed with drama, romance, longing and tragedy
What about Ron McLarty’s performance did you like?
His warm tones, and his sensitive delivery
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
The moment when Tick and her father are reunited in the art class, towards the end of the book.
Any additional comments?
This is the first Richard Russo book I have bought and I will certainly listen to others, especially if Ron McLarty is reading them. I think Russo could have tied up all the strings at the end, but it was also good to be left imagining what would happen next.
Any additional comments?
This is my third Richard Russo novel and all three have been a delight from start to finish. Although mildly comedic, if you took away the funny side you would still have a moving drama full of sadness and realism. <br/>I notice with Richard Russo that about once a page, maybe more, I encounter a sentence that is so perfect it makes me smile, usually an observation that is accurate, witty and beautifully phrased. I was sorry when I reached the end.<br/>At first I didn't like the voice but by the end I felt it was perfect for the book. He uses a terrific range of dialogue voices that really brings the characters to life.