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Mohawk Paperback – April 12, 1994
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great refreshing sound! RIchard Russo really knows how to pluck the strings in my heart.Published 1 month ago by Greg
Really good book, with a great story line. It dragged a bit at times. Otherwise very well written.Published 2 months ago by Phil Enscoe
Russo has control over small town gossip and small town doings. He knows his stuff and flaunts it as he should.Published 3 months ago by Unknown
Haven't read this book yet. However, I am prepared to love it. I totally enjoy Richard Russo's writing style. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Morning Glory
If you were born and raised in upstate New York , you must read this book. The characters will remind of many people you knew and you will LOL many times. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Timothy Abeel
This was an enjoyable read but it's obvious it was his earliest book. It was good enough to finish but his later books are so superior.Published 10 months ago by Kathleen McMahon
Russo has a powerful ability to create characters who are believable and to make room for every kind of person, in life that is less than perfect. Read morePublished 11 months ago by kristine
This was my first read of Richard Russo. I've become a fan. I'll read more.Published 12 months ago by john brueggeman