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Niagara Falls All Over Again Paperback – November 26, 2002
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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
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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?
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.Read more ›
As is to be expected, the real life aspects of the Carter and Sharp relationship are nothing like their on-stage/on-screen antics. It is the development of this relationship and it's evolution from small time success to larger success and, ultimately, dissolution, that constitutes the core of the novel. To a great degree, it's not a pretty story in the way so many show biz tales aren't pretty stories. However, McCracken deftly avoids the over maudlin through deft timing and timely wisecracking from Carter, the narrator and, naturally, the straight man of the duo.
McCracken excels with the offbeat, and while this duo is ostensibly more mainstream than the protagonist of her first novel, the excellent the Giant's House, their circumstances-economic, emotional, romantic, legal and so on, provide McCracken with ample ammunition to delve into the offbeat and eccentric, areas that provide very fertile ground for McCracken to plow through.
In the end the book is about both the constructive as well as the destructive aspects of fame on personality as displayed through the very different experiences of the two protagonists. That McCracken can develop tow such divergent characters and keep the reader engaged and interested in both, despite the fact that both are somewhat loathsome, self-centered and immature in the extreme, is a testament to her skills as a writer.
A very solid follow-up to her first novel and a very engaging read overall.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a fun read. I recommend it as a top-notch book to take on your summer vacation.Published 8 months ago by Patricia Vance
Terrific, poignant story. Well drawn characters.
I don't read a great deal of fiction these days, but I am glad I picked this up.
It was okay. I expected it to be funny like Laurel and Hardy, but it wasn't!Published 19 months ago by Jacqueline Williams
I've read numerous short stories by Elizabeth McCracken and loved them. This book was a different story altogether. So much information that added nothing to the story. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Mark
Elizabeth McCracken's novel, Niagara Falls All Over Again, is the complete package: strong plot, well developed characters, and several story lines which tie together well. Read morePublished on January 1, 2013 by demerson19
Nicely written. The kind of book that makes you sad when you finish it because you'll miss the characters. Read morePublished on September 21, 2012 by Maine Reader
This book blew me away. My girlfriend suggested it to me, and if I wasn't already in love with her, I would be after reading Niagara Falls All Over Again. Read morePublished on December 5, 2011 by t. a.
When I read the review on the cover hailing McCracken's "near-perfect timing" I didn't know what to make of it. Read morePublished on July 14, 2011 by L. A. Carmichael