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Chances Are . . .: A novel Kindle Edition
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|Length: 321 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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“A cascade of charm . . . Each [character is] so appealing that you hate to let him go, though you’ll quickly feel just as fond of the next one . . . One of the great pleasures of Chances Are... stems from how gracefully Russo moves the story along two time frames, creating that uncanny sense of memories that feel simultaneously near and remote . . . Russo is an undeniably endearing writer, and chances are this story will draw you back to the most consequential moments in your own life.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"Chances Are... is, at heart, less a mystery than an evocation of what happens when [its characters] discover that 'the membrane separating sympathy from pity could be paper thin' . . . . The cloud of remorse that hangs over [the novel] can be affecting precisely because these old friends have so much difficulty articulating their emotions. Will they be able to open up to whatever the future holds?" —Alida Becker, The New York Times Book Review
"Irresistible . . . with the complexities of human relationships, from first love to parenthood to aging [and] rich with humor." —Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times
“No one understands men better than Russo, and no one is more eloquent in explaining how they think, suffer, and love. At a rough time for masculinity, Russo’s flawed but always decent characters are repositories of the classic virtues of their gender. . . . [Chances Are...] blends everything we love about this author with something new. Yes, this is a novel about male friendship, fathers and sons, small-town class issues, and lifelong crushes, and it provides the familiar pleasure of immersion in the author’s distinctive, richly observed world and his inimitable ironic voice. But this is also a mystery about a 1971 cold case.”—Kirkus (starred)
“For his first stand-alone novel in 10 years, Russo has written a bewitching tale of male friendship with thriller elements . . . This is vintage Russo with a cunning twist.”—Carol Haggas, Booklist (starred)
"A surprising work that is as much a mystery as a meditation on secrets and friendship . . . a moving portrait of aging men who discover the world's worst-kept secret: You may not know the people you thought you were closest to." —Michael Magras, BookPage
“Russo’s first standalone novel in a decade mixes his signature themes—father-and-son relationships, unrequited love, New England small-town living, and the hiccups of aging—with stealthy clue-dropping in a slow-to-build mystery . . . In the final stretch, surprising, long-kept secrets are revealed. This is vintage Russo.”—Publishers Weekly
- Publication Date : July 30, 2019
- File Size : 1390 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 321 pages
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Publisher : Vintage (July 30, 2019)
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B07NTYRRQN
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #2 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The story takes place on Martha's Vineyard where Lincoln has a home. Lincoln, Micky, and Teddy, now 66 years old, meet in 2015 for a reunion. The three met while slinging hash in a sorority while scholarship students in a New England College. They have not seen each other in over a decade. Lincoln works in real estate, is married, and has 6 children. Teddy never married and has been putting all his energy into editing and publishing a slow fading magazine focusing on the themes of love and faith. He is prone to 'spells' which appear to be a form of panic attacks and bi-polar disorder (marked euphoria followed by depressive episodes). Micky, at 6'6", has always been a formidable man and even with his burgeoning beer belly, he is someone to be reckoned with. As a college student, he was not known for his impulse control. He has always loved music and is still in a rock band.
While this reunion is, on the surface, to reconnect, it is also about a young woman named Jacy, with whom they were all in love with when young, and who disappeared from their lives. Though she was engaged to a rich and upscale guy while in college, she was still 'one of the guys' and could by found regularly with Teddy, Micky, and Lincoln. The mystery has always remained as to what happened to Jacy.
As the book begins with the backdrop of the three men's childhood, it progresses to their reunion on Martha's Vineyard. Dynamics are observed, secrets are revealed and the narrative is told primarily in Lincoln and Teddy's voices, alternating between the two.
I have to admit to an aversion to Greek life on campus, to those who participate in it and those who revere it. I was immediately turned off by the large part that sororities played early in the novel. I didn't get the focus on this aspect of the novel. I would have thought these guys would be attracted to someone very unlike Jacy. But then, I'm not a guy so what do I know,
Russo can write, really write well, and though I didn't consider this his best book, any of his books are better than most that come off the presses these days. If you ever had a college experience, remember the Vietnam draft, and lived through the 1960's and 1970's, there will be a lot to make you feel at home with the background of this novel.
Maybe Russo wants to buy a new beach house. Soon.
Glaring anachronism: The sorority girls at Theta went to Minerva College as a backup school because they didn't get into the Ivy League. In those years, girls went to the Seven Sisters, the Ivy League wasn't co-ed yet.
Top reviews from other countries
It tells the story of three old college friends, reunited in their 60s at a beach house owned by the mother of one of the group, and they reflect on their youth and what happened to Jacy, a woman they all knew and loved. None of them seem to know what happened to Jacy, and this is the mystery that drives the novel. The chapters alternate between the members of the group, each telling a bit of their past and present story, and how they knew Jacy, and slowly the truth is revealed.
Sadly I didn't find the story that compelling, and it was fairly obvious - to this reader at least - that one of them would know more than the others from the very start, but crucially I didn't find any of the characters really that likeable or engaging, which was a first for Russo, and it was ultimately a very disappointing read compared to his other novels.
If you're thinking about reading any of his books, try "Empire Falls", "Nobody's Fool", "Straight Man" or "That Old Cape Magic" before this. For me, this was his weakest to date.
His women are less engaging but perhaps more so than most male writers manage. He does know that women are real and separate entities, who live parallel worlds to men, especially when young. But this tired cliche that women can say rude things about men who are not allowed to rebut is not particularly funny to women. It s repeated too. New version of "Take my wife. Please". It makes light of the fear and violence that forms part of our everyday reality. Writer or editor to blame?
He worked a number of off premises that just got up my nose and in the way. Like 66 is really elderly. It is not. No matter how many times he restated it. It barely qualifies for most of us as old at all. A few aches and pains more than 21, but life doesn t have to be over. Most of us can still cut the mustard. His sixties sound more like 80s. On the other hand, his characters were all too human and flawed, both by nature and by choice, in a stirring modern presentation. It also helped the plots along.
I also disliked the endless division of age groups perpetrated by some forces who stand to benefit. Get the young folks undermining the old and destabilize society? who wins there? At least he didnt over use boomer vs millennial by name.
But the farther one got the more hectoring it got-or philosophical, take your pick. Long rambling one sided justifications for life choices. I didn t buy or believe many, but by then they didnt seem that critical to the story anyway. I seem to have blown through it pretty fast and left off a lot in the last few pages. I solved the mystery early too, but that wasnt of great consequence. Hie explication of how the tragedies happened was more interesting and instructive although there were also gaps. We think we know what the bad dad did, but did he?
But it still was compelling, took me to the beloved northeast coast, windblown cedar siding, some old music, some emotions. Having reconnected with some old school friends from another life of my own, it was a compelling comparison and yet I found the emotional stuff overly reduced. I d love to see what a female writer would do with the same story line.
And I wonder who Paul Newman would play were he still with us. One of the fathers I m guessing. Bit part but powerful. Bringing up the subtle wordplay.
It s not the best Russo ever but it s still a fine summer read. I want more, Richard if you re out there. Even if you have to dog around in the attic some more.