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Mohawk Paperback – April 12, 1994

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (April 12, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679753826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679753827
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

The town of Mohawk may be provincial but it's far from sleepy. Its inhabitants seem perpetually awake, and not only on Saturday at two in the morning, "when the bars are closing and people are forced to consider the prospect of returning home with so many of the night's dreams unfulfilled." Richard Russo focuses on several characters who are leading lives of extreme--and extremely funny--longing. Dallas Younger, for instance, hit his peak playing high-school football, and it's been downhill from there. He has no idea what women, particularly his ex-wife, are thinking, which makes him really glad there are none in on the local poker game. And he's still at a loss to figure out why he has no relationship with his son (probably something to do with the fact that he never sees him). Even the calendar at the local grill is for 1966, since the owner figures "the months are the same" and being a few days out of whack doesn't matter. This same man has a private betting system. Choosing among the top jockeys isn't that hard--he tries to assess their current levels of pride, concentration, and desire. Richard Russo shows us that these same qualities exist in his hard-luck characters.


"Moving dramatizes an older, innocent way of life...brisk, colorful, and often witty." -- The New York Times Book Review

More About the Author

Rick Russo is the author of six previous novels and THE WHORE'S CHILD, a collection of stories. In 2002, he received the Pulitzer Prize for EMPIRE FALLS. He lives with his wife in Camden, Maine, and Boston.
Photo credit Elena Seibert

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 54 customer reviews
It is quite simply a thoroughly remarkable debut in every way.
H. Huggins
I slogged through this book and finished it only because I felt I needed to, not because I enjoyed it, which I didn't.
Michael Newman
"Mohawk" is poorly constructed and the characters are not particularly well drawn.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By mrliteral VINE VOICE on January 24, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With his Pulitzer Prize winning and best selling novel Empire Falls, Richard Russo has become a well-known author. In Mohawk, his first novel, we see, if somewhat imperfectly, the writer he would become.
Like his other novels, Mohawk is the story of a small town in the northeastern part of the U.S. The town - in this case Mohawk - is a place on the wane as the industry that fueled it peters out. In this story, we follow the adventures of Dallas Younger, his ex-wife Anne and their son Randall in the late '60s and early '70s. Dallas lives a life of general irresponsibility and likes it that way. Anne pines away for her cousin's husband, a wheelchair-bound man who she sleeps with every twenty years or so. Randall has his own issues to deal with including his efforts to evade the draft.
As with Russo's other stories, the characters are more important than the plot, and he is able to make them compelling enough that we want to keep reading. Compared with his other novels, this one is rather serious, although there is some humor.
This novel is good but not as great as his other books; in a way, this book is like an exhibition game before the regular season; we get a general feel for what Russo does but it is still just warming up. For example, in Dallas, we see the prototype for the deeper Sully in Nobody's Fool. Other elements of this story are revisited in his other stories.
I would recommend this book, but don't judge Russo by this story. He's just getting warmed up here.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. C. Palter on May 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read Mohawk after reading Empire Falls and Nobody's Fool. It was essentially the same story, in the same setting, with the same characters. It felt like Mohawk was practice for his masterpiece.

Like the other books, Mohawk is a collection of very well drawn characters, all of them fatally flawed, living in a dying town. What's missing in Mohawk is a central focus. There are many characters that we care about, and many stories, but no one main character and storyline to focus on, so Mohawk seems to have no thread we can latch onto. And though it is full of trademark Russo irony, it is missing the lightheartedness of Empire Falls that relieves the core of darkness of his characters.

Nevertheless, the novel held me interested, and once I got into it, I couldn't put it down, finishing it in a single weekend at 2 AM on Sunday night. Though not Russo's best, it is still better than 95% of the other books out there and worth reading. But if you haven't read Russo's The Straight Man, I'd recommend reading that instead. Mohawk, Nobody's Fool and Empire Falls are all the same story, same characters. The Straight Man is a departure, almost a comedy of errors, and a fun book to read.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Richard Russo has become one of my favorite novelists, and Mohawk is one of the best books I've read this summer. I would have given it five stars had it not been a little slow going at the beginning.

Like most Russo books, Mohawk is a little short on plot, but very strong on characterization and relationships. Mohawk, New York is a leather manufacturing town whose best days are long gone. The residents of Mohawk also seem to have their best days behind them, with many shattered and unfulfilled dreams. Mohawk centers around two first cousins, Anne Younger and Diane Wood, and their families. Anne has always been in love with Diane's husband, Dan. Dan is a paraplegic as the result of an accident. Anne's ne'er-do-well husband, Dallas, never seems to do right by the people he loves. Anna's son, Randall, starts slacking in school as he seems more accepted when his grades start sliding. Diane's mother has a hissy fit and needs to be hospitalized every time she doesn't get her on way. Anne's mother tortures both Anne and her father. And Mather Grouse (Anna's father) lives his life by a moral code that affects everyone in his family. Mohawk is a book of unlikely heroes as people try to make right of the past.

Russo is a master of observation and turns this talent into an art form. Some of those that touched a nerve include:

When discussing dealing with her husband, "Mrs. Grouse had come to see virtually everything he enjoyed as a potential source of upset. She seemed intent on making his remaining years one long Lenten season."

"the most effective lies were those liberally laced with truth.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
A wonderful work, exciting. A truly literary pageturner with fully realized loveable characters. Completely unpretentious. Even Wild Bill--Russo is totally forgiven for his creation, a patent Faulknerian manchild--is never doubted for a moment and plays a very pivotal part in the author's unfolding of this unforgettable town and the folks in it. I dream Mohawk (finding myself in the town) sometimes, even though I read this book two maybe three years ago. I can't believe that no one else visiting this site has reviewed this book at this time, besides the reprint of the published review. But Russo is not well known and this is his first novel. I recommend this book to anyone who breathes air and is thankful that they are a small part in the midst of this great ongoing tragicomedy (life). Didn't change my life, but if you want to read someone who is NOT a hack, read Richard Russo. Funny, too. --Jeremy
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