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Niagara Falls All Over Again Paperback – November 26, 2002

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Frequently Bought Together

Niagara Falls All Over Again + The Giant's House: A Romance + An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Reprint edition (November 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385336489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385336482
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #305,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Elizabeth McCracken seems to specialize in unlikely romance. Her charmingly quirky debut, The Giant's House, was the story of a librarian's passion for the world's tallest boy. The equally inventive Niagara Falls All Over Again is the story of a vaudevillian's love for the one person he can't be without--his partner in comedic crime:
You try to recall your wedding day, and you remember a fat man. Or the birth of your first kid, and you remember a fat man. You loved your wife, who died decades ago; you love your kids, who you see once a week. But facts are facts: every time you try to remember anything, the fat man comes strolling into your brain, his hands in his pockets, whiskey on his breath.
A vaudeville team that makes the leap to B-movie fame, Carter and Sharp have perfected a classic shtick: the stern professor and the hapless, bumbling Rocky. Offscreen, however, their roles are reversed. Mose Sharp is mild-mannered and accommodating, while Rocky Carter is a jovial bully--the kind of guy, Sharp thinks, who "compared the slices of cake on an arriving dessert tray and got disappointed, really disappointed, when the largest was delivered to somebody who wasn't him."

Show business is a subject tailor-made for McCracken's eccentric gifts: her timing is impeccable, and she's no slouch with the jokes either. But she's not playing this one just for laughs. As anyone who read The Giant's House knows, McCracken writes prose of uncommon beauty, studded with images both arresting and sad. Sharp's first few encounters with his wife, for example, are like "a pan of warm water inside my chest almost shoulder high, filled but perilous. It was the balancing that amazed me. Every time I thought of when I'd see her, the pan wobbled, but didn't spill, and the feat of carrying it astounded me again." This second novel is a balancing act on an even greater scale: tender but never sentimental, verbally dexterous but never merely clever. Like its predecessor, Niagara Falls will have you reading aloud to whomever will listen. --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Any doubts that McCracken could not equal the inventiveness, wit and quirky imagination of her first novel, The Giant's House, will be dispelled by this relentlessly eventful, rollickingly funny and heartwarming narrative. Her story about a pair of vaudeville comedians explores a symbiotic relationship in vigorous, expressive prose. Narrator Mose Sharp relates his life from childhood in Des Moines, Iowa, to old age in Hollywood in a distinctive, mordantly humorous voice. Pierced with remorse at the accidental death of his beloved sister, Hattie, 16-year-old Mose runs away from his gentle father and five remaining sisters to join the vaudeville circuit that he and Hattie had dreamed about. Later, down on his luck, he's taken under the wing of a plump comic, Rocky Carter, and they go on to become the famous team of Carter and Sharp. Though Mose is cast as a stern professor, and Rocky as the fat and hapless fall guy, in real life Rocky takes all the credit and a larger share of their income, and Mose is endlessly forgiving of Rocky's self-destructive behavior. In depicting the mingled love and resentment felt by both men, McCracken plumbs the soul of a relationship. She also chronicles the dying years of vaudeville with a tolerant eye for its desperate exuberance, and, when Carter and Sharp move on to Hollywood, the slaphappy 1940s movie industry. As years pass, Mose finds a wife, fathers children and grows rich, but his troubled partnership with Rocky remains the core of his existence. In its delicate balance of black humor, irony and pathos, this novel is as exhilarating as the waters of Niagara, its flow mimicking the tumultuous rush of time. Agent, Henry Dunow. (On-sale: Aug. 7)

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I loved every moment of it even though I cried as often as I laughed.
Michelle Dorn
Throughout the book, McCracken manages to make her characters human as well as humorous.
Lindsey A. Carmichael
This book has a very slow pace with tons of extra "fluff" detail.
Erin Jenkins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who reads this book in the mistaken belief that it will be a pleasant and nostalgic escape into vaudeville, the golden age of film, and the early days of television, may be disappointed. This is not Carter Beats the Devil, delightful as that book is--it's far more ambitious. McCracken uses a narrow focus on one Abbott/Costello type comedy team over a span of sixty years to delve into the broad spectrum of human emotions which makes life meaningful for each of us, insightfully developing themes about family, friendship, love, and the essence of communion and connection.

Mose Sharp (Sharensky), a Jewish boy from Valley Junction, Iowa, is an only son among six sisters, destined to inherit his father's men's clothing store, until his sister Hattie inspires him to take his chances with vaudeville. He runs away, meets up with Rocky Carter, for whom he acts as straight man, and becomes half of a successful team, which goes from vaudeville, to popular B-movies, radio, and TV in the age of Eddie Cantor and Milton Berle. Giving proof to the idea that you can take the boy out of Iowa but you can't take Iowa out of the boy, Mose remains true to the values he learned at home, escaping their narrow limitations while preserving their essence and, in contrast to Rocky, forming lasting and loving relationships.

As McCracken explores the off-again, on-again relationship of Mose and Rocky over the span of sixty years, she draws parallels and contrasts between their relationship and that of a marriage, between friendship and family, between sharing an act and sharing one's life, between the little deaths inherent in a tumultuous partnership and the very real deaths one must cope with in real life.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader on August 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is the story of an unlikely friendship in which Mose Sharp is the straight man indeed. A good-looking stagestruck Jewish kid from the midwest, his career is going nowhere (he comes perilously close to getting hooked off stage) until he meets fat, funny Rocky Carter, whose knockabout comic career set to take off. Rocky sees something in Mose, and together they launch Carter and Sharp, the fat-guy-skinny-guy comedy team to beat �em all. On stage and off, Mose's life is transformed by his partnership with talented, outrageous, big-hearted, demanding Rocky. In their thirty years together that friendship will be tested at many twists and turns, and when that friendship ends the reader feels its loss almost as much as Mose does.
Sorry if the first paragraph makes "Niagara Falls" sound pretty morose. It's not. Elizabeth McCracken balances skilfully on the tightrope between yearning and yucks to make "Niagara Falls All Over Again" more than a show-biz novel or a nostalgia piece. She builds on the inventive voice first heard in "The Giant's House" to reach one of those rare levels where although you're tickled by these guys' foibles, in the center of your chest you feel the hurt and longing behind the jokes. "Niagara Falls" will move you and make you laugh. What more can you ask of good fiction?
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Brett Benner VINE VOICE on October 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Elizabeth McCracken takes an ambitious idea of the personal and professional relationship between two vaudeville performers and makes it soar with humor, depth, and heart. Out narrator Mose Sharp is a young Jewish boy growing up in Iowa who is given the dream of vaudeville by his sister Hattie. But the story really takes off when he meets the man who is to become his partner and friend for some thirty odd years, Rocky Carter.From the midwest to the Hollywood Hills, McCracken paints a set of characters so real, so realized you feel like you're reading a wonderful celebrity bio that remembers an America captured in nostalgia. The book was faintly reminiscent to me of Michael Chabon's "Kavalier & Clay" as they're both set in the same general timeline; And if you enjoyed that book, you'd probably like this as well. It also made me, in light of recent events, feel like a part of Americana was captured. And that in itself was a small comfort and joy. A great book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eustacia Vye on August 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A rip roaring, hilarious novel about a vaudeville team. I know the world of stand up comedy and duos very well and this book sums it up perfectly. The insanity that happens to teams, the egos, the hard work and instant gratification. I had to keep putting the book down as I was laughing out loud. Gosh, I am envious! A terrific book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By tallybroom on July 31, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a love story: the funny, sad, sweet and frustrating marriage and divorce of the comedy twosome Carter and Sharp, complete with a honeymoon at the fabled Falls of the title. It is the memoir of Mose "Mike" Sharp, the skinny straight man of the duo. Although Mose and Rocky successfully chase women all over vaudeville, Broadway and Hollywood, the great romance of both of their lives is with one another. Filled with exasperation and affection it is a straight man's love letter to the talented fat man who got all the good lines. The novel works because the relationship at its core keeps our interest. Mose and Rocky frustrate each other, support each other, deeply and genuinely love each other but, in the end, betray each other.
Despite the many sad events in the lives of these characters, the book could never be called maudlin and is often downright funny. Carter and Sharp are comics, remember. There is a wry wit to Mose's memoir and much of the dialogue is so clever it is worth reading twice, just too savor. It's fun without being lightweight.
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