Trajectory

Stories
Length: 8 hrs and 5 mins
4 out of 5 stars (85 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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. In "Horseman", a professor confronts a young plagiarist as well as her own weaknesses as the Thanksgiving holiday looms closer and closer: "And after that, who knew?" In "Intervention", a realtor facing an ominous medical prognosis finds himself in his father's shadow while he presses forward - or not. In "Voice", a semiretired academic is conned by his increasingly estranged brother into coming along on a group tour of the Venice Biennale, fleeing a mortifying incident with a traumatized student back in Massachusetts but encountering further complications in the maze of Venice. And in "Milton and Marcus", a lapsed novelist struggles with his wife's illness and tries to rekindle his screenwriting career, only to be stymied by the pratfalls of that trade when he's called to an aging iconic star's mountaintop retreat in Wyoming.

©2017 Richard Russo (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"In this collection of short stories and novellas by the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, a team of talented narrators - Amanda Carlin, Arthur Morey, Fred Sanders, and Mark Bramhall - takes to the task of portraying Russo's troubled male protagonists.... Morey shines brightest with dramatic emphasis and pauses as a fragile relationship between brothers plays to a bitter end. Also, in a story that could be autobiographical, Russo is ably aided by Bramhall in his exploration of the wacky world of Hollywood moviemaking and how entering the orbit of stars can produce a poignant portrait of middle-aged men who are still struggling to find their place in the world." ( AudioFile)
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Melancholy but Rewarding

The four stories in Trajectory are linked, perhaps, by the disappointments of their middle-aged narrators. Romance has faded or failed; jobs (if any) are less rewarding than expected. The protagonists—two professors, a real estate broker and a novelist/screenwriter—are good company, self-aware and friendly enough. They try to get along with the difficult people around them.

My favorite story was “Voice,” the second and longest. A retired professor takes a group art tour of Venice during the Biennale with his condescending older brother. Rather than exploring the art, he obsesses over his well-meaning but intolerable behavior in a Jane Austen seminar during his final semester of teaching. The story shifts back and forth between the final semester and the current tour, where he finds opportunities both for romance and for rapprochement with his brother. Well told and even suspenseful.

The final story, “Milton and Marcus,” is a perceptive take on Hollywood megastars. A screenwriter is called from New England to Jackson Hole to work with an aging star named William Nolan, clearly modeled on Robert Redford. The star, who wants to be called “Regular Bill,” has the confidence and narcissism not to regret his own selfish behavior. An entertaining portrait.

The narrators were all strong, low-key and not getting in the way of these well-written tales.

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Good stories but issue with audiobook format

I have become a huge fan of Russia writing and I also love short stories in audible because there are times of my life such as the end of the academic semester when I dint want to get sucked into a book that takes a full couple of days reading or listening to finish. I will note that I’m reviewing this before finishing only because I want to warn others bout the annoying formatting of the smaller audible segments. There are no visible labels on them to show where each new story begins and there are no subheadings although it sounds from the reading like these do exist in the printed version. Recently I finished another audible book with short stories and there were definitely labels with the titles of each story in the collection as well as subtitles/ subheadings I believe.in ither audible short story collections since they were short stories they were not chunked into shorter segments. ( several were over an hour). I understand these stories may be too lengthy for just one chunk but there should at least be some visible way of finding where one ends and another begins in the Audible index. It’s so frustrating!

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Pretty good; not Russo’s best

Four stories, featuring familiar Russo themes: middle-aged men, death, sibling relationships, marriage, friendship, fathers and sons, betrayal. The performances were all good, and the ability of the author to create a credible inner life for characters as diverse as a female professor with a child “on the spectrum” whom she could not reach and a broke washed up screenwriter whose wife is dying is impressive. Generally I like short stories a lot, but having enjoyed Russo’s BIG novels, like Nobody’s Fool, I found these to be a little unsatisfying.

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A Great Collection from Richard Russo

Richard Russo is one of the very best writers of his generation, and this collection of novella-length stories is simply outstanding. The stories themselves are highly original, with characters one does not want to leave, and the writing is beautiful and insightful. The narrators do an excellent job with great material.