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Empire Falls Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 8, 2001
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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
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Richard Russo's bestselling novels explore the tragicomic realities of small-town life with poignancy and humor. Visit Amazon's Richard Russo Page.
Top Customer Reviews
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The characters are lively and sympathetic - even the ones that might be called villains - and despite the quiet nature of the narrative, it is a difficult book to put down.
Little did I realize the expertise of its author. He knows exactly what he's doing, bringing a complex tale to a slow boil. When the fever of rumination breaks toward the end, when something big really does happen, the reader is that much more taken by it because Russo has done more than introduce the characters--he has brought you into their lives, into their heads, and you genuinely care about their fate. Every one of the citizens in Empire Falls is a real, complex, believable person. At least once I had to remind myself that this heartbreaking tale, so vividly funny and genuinely tragic, is a work of fiction.
That Russo teases humor from sadness in such a natural, graceful way would make The Empire Falls a remarkable book. What makes it literature is its relevance, its reality, the fact that it might as well be a true story.
There are too many plot lines to detail, but they all are brought together nicely and no reader is left with unanswered questions thanks to an interesting epilogue.
All the problems of seeking a better life but being relegated to the blue collar life of a mill town whose mill has long closed, are embodied in Miles Roby, reluctant proprietor of the town's grill. In the opening pages he sees his teen-age daughter Tick walking home from school with a hunched back weighed down by her symbolic backpack representing all the problems she faces---the dissolution of her parents marriage, a stepfather she despises, a widening emotional gap with her mother, the dreaded loss of friends and social standing, and being coupled with the school's most tortured and disturbed student.
The story moves slowly but the characters are so richly drawn you will be totally engrossed and hard pressed to put this one down. When the story does reach its climax, there are plenty of shocks and surprises and a realization that life is not perfect and its flaws are with us forever to either cope with or be overwhelmed by.
The central character in this book is Miles Roby. He grew up in the dying fictional mill town of Empire Falls in central Maine and has never quite been able to escape from it. He is now 42 and running the Empire Grill hoping to succeed enough by hanging on to allow his beloved daughter nicknamed Tick to escape completely like he almost did. The cast of everyday characters unfolds from this common premise. Some are annoying (the Silver Fox), some endearing (Bea and David), some downright disturbing (John Voss), and some all-too-familiar (Max). You will feel anyone of them could be your neighbor, co-worker, or even a relative! Some metaphor's are obvious like the "weight of the World" in the form of Tick's huge school backpack, Miles' ever suffering mother's name of "Grace", or even Francine Robideaux as the Devil. Some are puzzling like the waitress-for-life Charlene or the banished to the boonies liberal Roman Catholic priest Father Mark. Small (all?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Russo hits hard with family,love,religion,money,power,and privledge. All set in the beautiful Maine interior. Read morePublished 17 days ago by laurel a mckinney
Russo does a great job of painting a picture of the town and the lives of those in it. Mikes love of his mother, daughter, wife & father are relatable in that they are not complex... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Barbara Timbers
The author wrote with great clarity and the characters were developed very well. This book was both serious and funny; I found myself laughing out loud several times.Published 1 month ago by Burglund Book Lover
Have you ever read a book that everybody loved and that won many awards yet it did nothing for you so you went online to look for negative reviews to see if anyone else, preferably... Read morePublished 2 months ago by email@example.com
Russo's books resonate with me. Really good stories and relatable characters. I feel like I have known people just like them and lived in a place just like that.Published 3 months ago by Mary Sahs