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Elsewhere Paperback – July 30, 2013
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“An intimate and powerful family story . . . impeccably told.” —Chicago Tribune
“Moving and darkly funny. . . . Russo mines grace from his gritty hometown.” —The Wall Street Journal
“One of the most honest, moving American memoirs in years. . . . Russo’s intellectual and emotional honesty are remarkable.” —NPR Books
“Russo conjures the incredible bond between single mother and only child in a way that makes his story particularly powerful.” —The Daily Beast
“Redemption is always the prize in a Russo story. Nowhere do we see that more clearly than in Elsewhere, a brave little book in which a writer spins deprivation into advantage, suffering into wisdom, and a broken mother into a muse.” —The Washington Post
“Vivid . . . devastating. . . . Russo brings the remarkable compassion he’s known for in his fiction to this account.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Russo is the Bruce Springsteen of novelists. . . . In a paragraph or even a phrase, he can summon up a whole world.” —Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air
“Funny and winning. . . . This stirring book belongs to Jean and Rick.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Filled with insights, by turn tender and tough, about human fidelity, frailty, forbearance, and fortitude.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“A quietly riveting portrait. . . . Elsewhere depicts the tenacious grip that Gloversville exerted on mother and son alike.” —The New York Observer
“Exquisite. . . . Elsewhere is a memoir and a bravura essay, a meditation on negotiating flaws.” —The Miami Herald
“Richard Russo has mined his childhood with enormous energy, humor and craftsmanship. . . . Readers discovering Russo through this memoir and then returning to his first few titles are embarking on a delightful voyage with a gifted writer about whom they now know a great deal.” —The Seattle Times
“Affecting. . . . Russo’s parallel themes of people and place come together elegantly.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“A real-life mystery about his mother’s demons. . . . Russo writes without bitterness, but with the kind of clear-eyed compassion he bestows on his fictional characters.” —USA Today
“Rich and layered. . . . Russo’s memoir is an honest book about a universal subject: those familial bonds that only get trickier with time.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Outstanding.” —Chicago Sun-Times
Top Customer Reviews
In an era when too often the veracity of memoirs is called into question--just because of the voyeuristic, overblown adventures needed to keep contemporary readers engaged--this memoir is thoroughly original. If you have ever read a novel and wondered how much is the author's actual life and how much is fiction, and how the two influence each other, you will love this book.
When the 18-year-old Russo was admitted to the University of Arizona in 1967, Jean took advantage of the opportunity to flee her compulsive gambler husband and the upstairs apartment she shared with her only child in her parents' Gloversville home. Driving a 1960 Ford Galaxie he christened the "Gray Death" (a vehicle that could not go in reverse, in a nice bit of symbolism), Russo and his mother embarked on what turned out to be a death-defying cross-country trek. Jean's quixotic decision to abandon a secure, well-paying job with General Electric in Schenectady, expecting she'd easily land a comparable position with the same employer in Arizona, was emblematic of what Russo calls her "intractable determination that was responsible for her seemingly endless suffering."
Soon their prospects diverged. Richard, with his Ph.D. in English, eventually left academia to become a full-time novelist. When Hollywood discovered his work, he added well-paying screenwriting jobs to his resume.Read more ›
Mr. Russo was born and grew up in the mill town of Gloversville, New York. If you can write a memoir about a town, then Gloversville is the third subject of this book. It's where the author got his title from: as both he and his mother Jean moved from place to place-- Arizona, Illinois, and finally Maine-- she couldn't wait to get out of Gloversville. Then when she was "elsewhere," she always wanted to move back and did for a short time after she had lost a job in Tucson. When Russo decided in 1967 to go to college in Arizona, she just loaded up their newly-purchased 1960 battleship gray Ford Galaxie and moved with him.Read more ›
Mr. Russo spends his life--and sacrifices his time and loyalty to his own wife and family--trying to placate his irrational mother. He's the only child of a needy single mother: wherever he goes, she goes, even to college. It's clear that she is mentally unstable, but incredibly, Mr. Russo doesn't see that until after her death. Early on, he says a few things that make it clear he feels reponsible for her unhappiness: "She presented herself... as a Nora Charles searching for her Nick, except instead of having a yippy little dog for a companion, she had me."
After his mother's death, Mr. Russo comes across information about obsessive compulsive behavior and makes the connection with his mother's behavior. I'm not sure why he hadn't heard of OCD before. Someone in my family was diagnosed in the fourth grade and that was almost 20 years ago, so the disorder wasn't unknown during the time Mr. Russo was schlepping his mother from one city to another and from one apartment to the next in a vain attempt to make her happy "elsewhere."
I know the futility of trying to make an unhappy mother happy, so this was a painful read for me. I just wanted the author to stop trying, set the mother down in one place and ignore her misery, and lavish his attention on his long-suffering wife. Why his wife put up with her husband's unhealthy obsession with his tiresome mother is a mystery the author doesn't delve into. Frankly, I'd like to read her book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I always conflated Richard Russo, his character in Nobody's Fool, and Paul Newman all together. This memoir of his mother carefully frames the outlines of their lives, which have... Read morePublished 28 days ago by Hargulon Smenj
first part of story (1/4 of it) amazing funny and sad-- rest just recycles his mothers problems over and over and is not very interestingPublished 1 month ago by John Kolwaite
Like the book - my dad was from Gloversville and I enjoy reading about the town he grew up in.Published 1 month ago by D Jones
I really liked the sample but it was too expensive....so I went to the library.Published 1 month ago by Anonymous