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Nobody's Fool (Vintage Contemporaries) [Kindle Edition]

Richard Russo
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Richard Russo's slyly funny and moving novel follows the unexpected operation of grace in a deadbeat town in upstate New York—and in the life of one of its unluckiest citizens, Sully, who has been doing the wrong thing triumphantly for fifty years.

Divorced from his own wife and carrying on halfheartedly with another man's, saddled with a bum knee and friends who make enemies redundant, Sully now has one new problem to cope with: a long-estranged son who is in imminent danger of following in his father's footsteps. With its sly and uproarious humor and a heart that embraces humanity's follies as well as its triumphs, Nobody's Fool is storytelling at its most generous.


From the Trade Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's about time that people looking for a good read discovered the novels of Richard Russo. It's not just that he writes with panache, his verbal dexterity a mixture of biting wit and potent insight. He also endows his subjects-- blue-collar people living in economically desperate communities--with dignity, finding in their humble circumstances the essential questions of existence. Yet here as in his previous novels, Mohawk and The Risk Pool , the events in his protagonist's life are the material of rollicking high comedy. A succession of contretemps conspire to keep Donald "Sully" Sullivan mired in a morass of bad luck, compounded at every turn by his own stubborn, self-destructive streak. Financial solvency has always eluded Sully, an unemployed construction worker. At 60, he is suffering from a badly mangled, constantly aching knee, the consequence of a typically foolish accident; his pickup truck is moribund; his long-time mistress is restive; his ex-wife is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and his son Peter has come home for Thanksgiving with news that his marriage is disintegrating and that he has lost his job. Sully's sagging fortunes are mirrored by his community's decline. North Bath, N.Y., is a town prosperity has shunned: its signature hot springs mysteriously dried up years ago and a projected Ultimate Escape theme park is doomed never to materialize. Sully's financial problems might be solved by the sale of his dead father's dilapidated house, but Sully's gnawing hatred of Big Jim, a viciously mean, hypocritical bully, renders him incapable of profiting from his father's estate. His emotional distance from Big Jim left Sully incapable of forging a bond with Peter, or indeed, of establishing any relationship that he cannot address with a wisecrack or a teasing quip. In fact (and somewhat improbably), all the characters in the novel have the gift of a silver tongue: the dialogue often consists of verbal sparring, insults exhanged in comradely fashion. The narrative brims with memorable portraits: Sully's mentally dim and odoriferous sidekick, Rub Squeers; his feisty 80-year-old landlady and former grade-school teacher, Miss Beryl; his ex-wife, a woman animated by moral outrage and self pity; his mistress's stiletto-tongued daughter and her waif-like, wall-eyed child; his one-legged alcoholic lawyer--even his thoroughly wicked grandson, the pint-sized reincarnation of Big Jim. In delivering these personalities with a Dickensian skill, Russo again proves himself a shrewd observer of human nature, whose universal failings he scrutinizes with a comic eye and a compassionate heart. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1993 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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1659 KB
  • Print Length: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Contemporaries ed edition (November 9, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005WBGNTE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,167 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
95 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another classic by Russo 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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75 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They don't get any better than this. 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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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Russo is a Master July 14, 2000
By A Customer
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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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This a wonderful book. It will have you smiling, laughing, and concerned with the lives and events of a place that might otherwise be seen as of little worth.

Anyone who has driven through the secondary roads of Northern New York will recognize the book's breathtaking authenticity. This is the land of rusting cars sitting on blocks in front yards, old farm houses slumped over and left unpainted for decades, and ugly roadside beer joints with neon window signs.

The town at the center of the story is a place, once somewhat grand, now for years in serious decline. Charm can be spotted in the decayed gingerbread woodwork of century-old houses whose residents are too poor or old to keep them up. Some huge old trees give parts of the main street a disguise of faded elegance.

The town might be taken as a metaphor for the main character, Sully, who is slowly rotting into the same fabric of decay. Sully is charming, offensive, funny, and pathetic in turns. He is both biting observer of the town's slide into oblivion and full participant.

Sully is a complex human being, and surely one of the most memorable characters in modern American literature. He is actually one of a number of attempts by Richard Russo to come to terms with the man who was his extraordinary father. Most of these attempts have not been as appealing or successful as Nobody's Fool, the only exception being The Risk Pool, another fine book, where his central character is a boy thrown by circumstances into the bizarre, chaotic life of his father, a much rawer character than Sully.

Russo has the gift to hold a place up to laughter while yet never separating himself from what he is having us laugh at. It is that quality that gives grace to a story that could fall into brutal sarcasm.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Awesome story. Russo is great. The book has been read repeatedly and we have let others borrow it. It's still in good condition.
Published 3 days ago by GingerH
5.0 out of 5 stars American Treasure
Richard Russo should (and often is) required reading in every creative writing course. He is an American treasure!
Published 5 days ago by John Yaw
4.0 out of 5 stars they liked the movie ending better than the novel
My students read the novel in class. The movie helped bring it to life. Also, they liked the movie ending better than the novel. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Cindy K. Shine
5.0 out of 5 stars Just plain great.
"…the mystery of affection, of the heart inclining in one direction and not another, of its unexpected, unwished-for pirouettes, its ability to make a fool, a villain, of its... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Shannon E C
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this book about a good man
I really enjoyed this book about a good man, with poor judgement at times, in a dying village. It was one of those rare stories that you don't want to end. Read more
Published 25 days ago by 17015
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another amazing book by the incredible Richard Russo.
Published 3 months ago by karen s
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book. Fast shipping.
Published 3 months ago by Bobbi's Books
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of my all time favorite books. I love Sully and the gang.
Published 3 months ago by Heidi J. Jonathan
4.0 out of 5 stars It was a fun and interesting book but there were too many extraneous...
It was a fun and interesting book but there were too many extraneous characters. We watched the movie and it was better when it was edited down. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Irma Gurman
4.0 out of 5 stars Russo--Good Writer--I am happy I found him
I highly enjoy Russo's books. His characters are engaging, and his plots enthralling. The characters' foibles are realistic and endearing while also sometimes frustrating. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Lauren and Justine's Mom
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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

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