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Everybody's Fool: A novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 3, 2016
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From Publishers Weekly
When Doug Raymer, chief of police of the forlornly depressed town of North Bath, N.Y., falls into an open grave during a funeral service, it is only the first of many farcical and grisly incidents in Russo's shaggy dog story of revenge and redemption. Among the comical set pieces that propel the narrative are a poisonous snakebite, a falling brick wall, and a stigmatalike hand injury. North Bath, as readers of Nobody's Fool will remember, is the home of Sully Sullivan, the hero of the previous book and also a character here. Self-conscious, self-deprecating, and convinced he's everybody's fool, Raymer is obsessed with finding the man his late wife was about to run off with when she fell down the stairs and died. He's convinced that the garage door opener he found in her car will lead him to her lover's home. Meanwhile, he pursues an old feud with Sully; engages in repartee with his clever assistant and her twin brother; and tries to arrest a sociopath whose preferred means of communication are his fists. The remaining circle of ne'er-do-wells, ex-cons, daily drunks, deadbeats, and thieves behave badly enough to keep readers chuckling. The give-and-take of rude but funny dialogue is Russo's trademark, as is his empathy for down-and-outers on the verge of financial calamity. He takes a few false steps, such as giving Raymer a little voice in his head named Dougie, but clever plot twists end the novel on lighthearted note. 250,000-copy announced first printing. (May)\n
“Cause for celebration . . . writing that reflects [Russo’s] deep affection for the quotidian and for the best and worst that’s found in every human heart.” —Sally Bissell, Library Journal
“Buoyantly unsentimental . . . You hold his books to your heart.” —Jan Stuart, The Boston Globe
“Elegiac but never sentimental. . . . Russo’s compassionate heart is open to the sorrows, and yes, the foolishness of this lonely world, but also the humor, friendship and love that abide.” —Paul Wilner, San Francisco Chronicle
“[A] sweeping comic novel . . . Whether you loved Nobody’s Fool or never heard of it, reasons about to read its sequel.” —Betty J. Cotter, The Providence Journal
“Hard-bitten, hard-drinking, hardscrabble comedy [whose] timing is impeccable: Russo understands more about the ‘plight of the working class’ than any so-called pundit attempting to decipher this election.” —Yvonne Zipp, The Christian Science Monitor
“Russo [renders] with uncommon grace the dashed expectations and wistful regrets of his working-class hero, Sully.” —O Magazine
“Rollicking and heartfelt.” —Jeff Baker, The Seattle Times
“For fans who’ve missed Sully and the gang, Everybody’s Fool is like hopping on the last empty barstool surrounded by old friends.” —Jeff Labreque, Entertainment Weekly
“A writer of great comedy and warmth, Russo’s living proof that a book can be profound and wise without aiming straight into darkness. [His] voice can play in any register, any key, any style [in this] portrait of an entire community, in all its romance and all its grit.” —Eliot Schrefer, USA Today
“Russo brings wit and warmth to this slapstick tale . . . Once again his characters are marvelous creatures, endearing in spite of themselves.” —People
“A delightful return . . . to a town where dishonesty abounds, everyone misapprehends everyone else and half the citizens are half-crazy. It’s a great place for a reader to visit, and it seems to be Russo’s spiritual home.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“How could twenty-three years have slipped by since Nobody’s Fool? . . . Russo is probably the best writer of physical comedy that we have [but] even the zaniest elements of the story are interspersed with episodes of wincing cruelty. . . . The abiding wonder [is that] Russo’s novel bears down on two calamitous days and exploits the action in every single minute . . . mudslides, grave robbery, collapsing buildings, poisonous snakes, drug deals, arson, lightning strikes and toxic goo. North Bath is a sleepy little town that never sleeps [and] no tangent ever feels tangential.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“Everybody should read Everybody’s Fool. Almost nobody in Richard Russo’s novel is sure of anything, but I’m sure of that. . . . [He] has given readers all they should want.” —Brian O’Neill, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“The Fool books represent an enormous achievement, creating a world as richly detailed as the one we step into each day of our lives. . . . Sully in particular emerges as one of the most credible and engaging heroes in recent American fiction. . . . Bath is real, Sully is real, and so is Hattie’s and the White Horse Tavern and Miss Peoples’s house on Main, and I can only hope we haven’t seen the last of them. I’d love to see what Sully’s going to be up to at 80.” —T. Coraghessan Boyle, The New York Times Book Review
“I was holding my breath for fear Everybody's Fool wouldn’t live up to its predecessor, but I shouldn't have worried. As good as Russo was in 1993, he’s even better now. And Everybody’s Fool is a delight [with] enough bizarre events, startling revelations, unlikely heroes and touching moments to supply a dozen small towns . . . He is also a master of plotting, from cliffhangers to twists that deftly link apparently unrelated threads. This book’s tone is largely comic, but Russo writes with uncommon insight about love, families and friendship.” —Collette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times
“A madcap romp, weaving mystery, suspense and comedy in a race to the final pages.” —Jennifer Maloney, The Wall Street Journal
“Triumphant. . . Russo's reunion with these beloved characters is genius: silly slapstick and sardonic humor play out in a rambling, rambunctious story that poignantly emphasizes that particular brand of loyalty and acceptance that is synonymous with small-town living.” —Carol Haggas, Booklist (starred)
“Russo hits his trademark trifecta: satisfying, hilarious, and painlessly profound.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
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Top Customer Reviews
Toby and Carl Roebuck have finally divorced. She’s doing very well in real estate but Carl’s Tip Top Construction Company is about to go under. Mayor Gus Moynihan is trying to conserve the city’s finances while dealing with his spacey wife, Alice, who roams around town talking to someone using a telephone handset that she carries in her purse.
The central character in this novel is Douglas Raymer, now the Chief of Police in North Bath. Raymer has serious doubts about his own capabilities and has frequent internal dialogues with his other self called Dougie. Raymer is recently widowed and misses Becka even though his marriage was not successful. When she brought a suitcase full of books on their honeymoon, he knew their relationship was in trouble. He was the one who found her dead at the bottom of their apartment stairs, looking like a Slinky toy. Raymer has an assistant, a black woman named Charice, who teases him about a butterfly tattoo on her butt. Although they maintain a strict professional relationship, each has feelings for the other that must remain hidden.
Like the prequel, the book’s plot is pretty fuzzy. Its charm is the collection of fascinating characters interacting with one another to create a memorable story. It’s filled with many surprises and plenty of humor, a laugh-out-loud moment on every other page. You can’t help but love these people because their faults make them so genuinely human.
Richard Russo has again hit a home run with this most enjoyable novel. I eagerly await his next offering.
The action picks up ten years after the end of the last book. It contains Russo's trademark mix of hilarity, pathos, and even a little mystery. Each character is so well drawn, Sully being up to his old behavior. He never really changed. Highly highly recommended.