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The Risk Pool Paperback – April 12, 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
What makes this book work is that, flawed as the characters are, Russo nevertheless infuses them with the souls of real people. We can bemoan the fact that Sam's a lousy dad, and not that great a person overall, but it's hard to get too worked up about it as the fact is you kind of like the guy. In fact, this novel abounds in characters who are unsavory yet so brilliantly drawn and presented, we feel we know them well, warts and all.
Additionally, Russo is a master at rendering the landscape of the small town, painting a picture that isn't all that attractive yet abounds in appealing context and situations--that is, he makes Mowhawk feel like home feels, regardless of where you grew up.
In the end, what one is left with is a story--a rarity thses days. The novel is funny, sad, insiprational, gross and absorbing--in short, it's a lot like real life. What makes it an extraordinary story is that Russo pulls from it the extrordinary revelations about life, love, loyalty, stupidity, passion and loss that we ought to get out of our own lives but somehow don't.
A truly remarkable book.
The Risk Pool takes the best elements of his first work, sprinkles in an even more colorful assortment of barflies and other sundry and sordid characters, and actually takes us on a sprawling journey of a son and his relationship with his hard-livin', hard-drinkin' father.
Once again, Russo goes through great lengths to make his characters three-dimensional and genuine. He is a master of setting you right down in the bars, fishing holes, trailers, coldwater flats and smoking convertibles and getting you acquainted with Ned Hall and his father, Sam, and all their friends. He has a remarkable talent of making you feel as if you've known these guys for years. Russo also peppers these individuals with some fantastic, realistic dialogue that had me laughing out loud in places (especially when the fellas were discussing and debating the attempted suicide of a local resident).
Russo makes no attempt to hide the many flaws in his characters; even the narrator, Ned, is a compulsive liar who seems to be an emotionally-detached observer and not a participant in his his own relationships with friends and lovers. His father, Sam, despite all of his problems (drinking, gambling, fighting, run-ins with the law, etc.), is made into a believably sympathetic character by Russo, and the author really captures that weird bond between a son and his father regardless of Sam's many, many negatives.
Don't read this book looking for wacky hijinks or any profound insights into life, love or relationships. Thankfully, The Risk Pool never gets sappy or over romanticized like other parent-child novels.Read more ›
Personally, I think Risk Pool is Russo's best book for three reasons. First, Sam Hall is the best main character in any Russo book to date (with Sully from Nobody's Fool being a close second). There is much to dislike about Sam Hall's actions and he'll never win any "Father of the Year" contests, but Russo somehow wins you over to liking Sam Hall and forgiving him (as his son, Ned Hall does) for his many sins. Second, Russo's greatest strength as a writer is in his minor characters and Risk Pool again has the most numerous and best developed cast of minor characters that add alot of richness to the book. Third, Risk Pool probably has the most mystery of any of Russo's other books, with numerous subplots and minor characters that do not always get neatly resolved. Unlike other of Russo's books, there is a little more room in Risk Pool for speculation as to what "might" have happened.
Having seen "Nobody's Fool" already made into a solid Hollywood movie and "Empire Falls" made into an HBO movie, I am somewhat surprised that Risk Pool also has not received consideration for movie treatment.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book that meshes the relationships of the characters into dependency in a small town. It reveals that friendships are an intrical part of life!Published 1 day ago by Janet
A novel that will stay with you for many years. When one day it's details will feel a little blurry, you'll just want to read it again. If you need an excuse.Published 10 days ago by Catina
The book itself is in good condition and arrived in a timely manner. But the story is rough to get through and the print is really small.Published 1 month ago by Jennifer L. Lloyd
I have been going through Richard Russo's novels; he never disappoints.Published 1 month ago by Richard Bienvenu
This is one of my favorite of Russo's books. Again, his subjects are from the lowest working classes in an upstate NY town where industry has been off-shored, leaving the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Eileen Auerbach