Empire Falls

by Richard Russo | Literature & Fiction | This book has not been rated.
ISBN: 0375726403 Global Overview for this book
Registered by GorgeousGlo on 9/12/2006
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by GorgeousGlo on Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I have never warmed up to this author.

Amazon.com's Best of 2001
Like most of Richard Russo's earlier novels, Empire Falls is a tale of blue-collar life, which itself increasingly resembles a kind of high-wire act performed without the benefit of any middle-class safety nets. This time, though, the author has widened his scope, producing a comic and compelling ensemble piece. There is, to be sure, a protagonist: fortysomething Miles Roby, proprietor of the local greasy spoon and the recently divorced father of a teenage daughter. But Russo sets in motion a large cast of secondary characters, drawn from every social stratum of his depressed New England mill town. We meet his ex-wife Janine, his father Max (another of Russo's cantankerous layabouts), and a host of Empire Grill regulars. We're also introduced to Francine Whiting, a manipulative widow who owns half the town--and who takes a perverse pleasure in pointing out Miles's psychological defects.
Miles does indeed have a tendency to take it on the chin. (At one point he alludes to his own "natural propensity for shit-eating.") And his role as Mr. Nice Guy thrusts him into all sorts of clashes with his not-so-nice contemporaries, even as the reader patiently waits for him to blow his top. It would be impossible to summarize Russo's multiple plot lines here. Suffice it to say that he touches on love and marriage, lust and loss and small-town economics, with more than a soupçon of class resentment stirred into the broth. This is, in a sense, an epic of small and large frustrations: "After all, what was the whole wide world but a place for people to yearn for their heart's impossible desires, for those desires to become entrenched in defiance of logic, plausibility, and even the passage of time, as eternal as polished marble." Yet Russo's comedic timing keeps the novel from collapsing into an orgy of breast-beating, and his dialogue alone--snappy and natural and efficiently poignant--is sufficient cause to put Empire Falls on the map. --Bob Brandeis

Journal Entry 2 by GorgeousGlo on Saturday, September 23, 2006
I don't seem to be making too many wild releases lately, and books pile up around my desk. So I look on Cliff to see who may have them on their wish list. This one was on Librarymousie's list, so RABCK is on her way.

Journal Entry 3 by librarymousie from Portsmouth, New Hampshire USA on Monday, October 02, 2006
Thank you so much for sending this my way. There was a lot of hubub in my area when this originally came out because I believe Russo lived in Concord (the town I used to work in) while he was writing this. Anyway, I'm excited to finally have the chance to read it. Thank you so much for the wonderful surprise, GorgeousGlo!

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