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Nobody's Fool Paperback – April 12, 1994

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Frequently Bought Together

Nobody's Fool + Empire Falls + The Risk Pool
Price for all three: $36.86

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More from Richard Russo
Richard Russo's bestselling novels explore the tragicomic realities of small-town life with poignancy and humor. Visit Amazon's Richard Russo Page.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Contemporaries ed edition (April 12, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679753338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679753339
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in the economically desperate ex-resort town of North Bath, N.Y., Russo's novel displays his characteristic verbal panache and biting wit.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Sixty-year-old Sully is "nobody's fool," except maybe his own. Out of work (undeclared-income work is what he does, when he can), down to his last few bucks, hampered by an arthritic broken knee, Sully is worried that he's started on a run of bad luck. And he has. The banker son of his octogenarian landlady wants him evicted; Sully's estranged son comes home for Thanksgiving only to have his wife split; Sully's own high-strung ex-wife seems headed for a nervous breakdown; and his longtime lover is blaming him for her daughter's winding up in the hospital with a busted jaw. But Sully's biggest problem is the memory of his own abusive father, a ghost who haunts his every day. As he demonstrated in Mohawk (Random, 1986) and The Risk Pool (Random, 1989), Russo knows the small towns of upstate New York and the people who inhabit them; he writes with humor and compassion. A delight. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/93.
- Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

I truly enjoyed reading this book -- every single page.
lori hornick
What makes this story so compelling is the way the characters are drawn from real life and how fully developed Russo manages to make them.
Mark Vigna
Somehow, this book made me look at my life and think, you know, I like it.
Heather Goodman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 98 people found the following review helpful By mrliteral VINE VOICE on December 3, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Richard Russo hasn't published very many books, but he is quickly becoming one of the great authors of today. In Nobody's Fool, he writes another excellent tale of small-town life, a setting he revisits in his masterpiece, Empire Falls.
The main character in Nobody's Fool is Donald Sullivan, known more commonly as Sully. Sully is something of a free spirit, rarely thinking beyond the moment; now that he's sixty, he's feeling the effects of his short-sightedness; he has many friends but few real relationships, even with his son and his off-and-on again lover. Indeed, the closest relationship he has is with his landlady.
It's hard to describe this novel in terms of plot, since this is more a book about characters than a regular story. Russo is not interested in the standard beginning-middle-end structure of a novel; instead this book is almost pure middle. Plenty happens, but as in real life, few things are neatly resolved.
Russo is a brilliant writer and makes all his characters multi-dimensional. There are no good guys or bad guys here; even Sully, a likeable enough fellow, has some definite flaws. The way all these characters interact - Sully, his landlady Miss Beryl, his friend/worshipper Rub, his foe/friend Carl and the dozen or so others - is what makes this book so much fun. There is humor here, but this is not a comic novel; instead, it is a novel that does not fit well into any category.
For those whose tastes run beyond strict genre fiction, this is definitely a reccomended read. It just one indication of what a great writer Russo is.
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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Francis on June 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
Thank God for Amazon. I discovered Richard Russo while looking at reviews of Moo by Jane Smiley. A reviewer put me onto Straight Man, and that's how I got to Nobody's Fool.
I liked Straight Man very much. Then I went on to The Risk Pool and Nobody's Fool, which I read within a few months of each other about a year ago. Looking back it's hard to separate the two because of their similar setting and characters.
Both are wonderful. If there is the perfect novel, both The Risk Pool and Nobody's Fool are it. One night while I was reading Nobody's Fool in bed, I finished a paragraph and put the book down on my chest thinking that I had actually been touched by God; it was that unusual. I felt that I had experienced perfection. That has only happened to me once before.
Russo's chracters are "ordinary;" some would call them losers. Russo clearly loves them, and that is the wonder of these two books. When I tried to describe Russo's writing to an author friend, she said that a good writer leads his readers by the hand, but she said it sounded in this case as if Russo were leading his readers by the soul. I couldn't have said it better.
Please read this book.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
When is the rest of the country going to catch on to the numerous qualities of Russo's writing? If the reviews of his books here on Amazon are any indication, he is slowly but surely gaining fans every time someone picks up one of his books.
I picked up a copy of Straight Man at a bargain rack a while back, and to this day that book remains one of my favorite contemporary novels of all time. It pokes fun of academia, political correctness, family turmoil and greed with humor and compassion.
Nobody's Fool comes in a close second. I absolutely loved the character Sully, the principled loser and antihero of the novel who seems to keep begrudgingly doing the right thing and doing his best to maintain order in a chaotic town. His idiotic but loyal sidekick, Rub, is a perfect comic foil, and the scenes of them scheming to make a few bucks are outright hilarious. Every character in the novel, from Sully's old landlady and her busybody friends to the humorless bartender and the familiar group of losers at Sully's numerous stomping grounds, are dead on accurate and believable. Russo writes the best dialogue of any modern writer I know.
The book, like most of Russo's fiction, peels back the layers of a small town in upstate New York, a town that somehow missed out on prosperity when the interstate drew travelers away, but Russo writes about the town and its inhabitants with humor and compassion. This is not the stark, depressing realism of a Russell Banks novel like Affliction. You will laugh out loud at Sully's shameful flirtations, and at Rub's considerable problems at home with his perpetually angry wife, while recognizing the truth in Russo's small town mosaic. Read Nobody's Fool and Straight Man, and you will be a Russo fan for life.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Edward Aycock on August 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
The setting is vintage Russo. A small, depressed town that time forgot where people tend to go through the motions of life, clinging to the hope of an economic miracle that never seems to happen. A coworker told me that this is the real America, there are more towns like this than there are the bustling big cities. Russo's towns come to life with his vivid descriptions and three dimensional characters.
In "Nobody's Fool", set in the mid-1980's in upstate New York, we meet Sully, a mostly harmless guy who seems to raise the ire of about everybody he meets, with the exception of his best friend and his landlady. True, Sully can be a real pain in the neck, but he's oh so fun to read about, what with his troubles with his dad's ghost, his distant son, his sometime employer, his slow best friend, and the subplot about a spastic Doberman and the volley over a stolen snowblower. I could go on and on, but it's too complex to compress into a short review.
Russo has a way of making you wonder exactly how things will turn out for our protagonists, since many of them paint themselves into a corner (see also Russo's "Straight Man".) This book is a thick read, but I wished it had gone on even longer. I did not find myself wishing that the book was about 100 pages shorter, or that there was a better interplay of action and dialogue. This book is Russo at top form, and it shows. Every page in this book is a delight and despite the heft, the story is over much too soon. Highly recommended.
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