Okay, if I had to review it in one word it would be “Wow.” Fortunately, I have the SDMB.
I did a quick search of Cafe Society before posting and was shocked, I say SHOCKED to see that the cultured, erudite and dare I say… refined members of this board had not yet posted about this book.
What a great book. Normally - no matter how open-minded I try to be - I hate books that have won awards, (Empire Falls got the Pulitzer) but DANG this one was so good! I suck at selling books - part of the reason I quit my book club; they never wanted to read books I wanted to - but I’ll try to tell you why I loved it.
The characters were real. I recognized authentic character traits in each of the primary characters - even the antagonists. I wanted to know these people.
The writing style was easy to read yet rich in texture.
The plot was sparse but pulled me along… I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.
Anyway, read this book. I cannot see how it could disappoint.
I’m reading it right now! I bought it at the airport on Monday and finished about half of it back and forth from Las Vegas. I love it so far. So much more enjoyable than The Corrections, the other big prizewinner from 2001. I’d read almost that whole thing before I realized that is was an urban remake of American Beauty.
Of course, I am quite sypathetic to Miles Roby. A scary resemblance to yours truly, I hate to admit.
I love Richard Russo but I didn’t care much for this one. I thought the end was really far-fetched and goofy. As usual I liked his characters and he writes great dialogue. My Russo faves are The Risk Pool and Nobody’s Fool, which is also a great movie.
I loved Straightman! I’ve also read the one about the son who has to go live with his wayward father after his mother dies (can’t think of the title). I didn’t like that one as much. When I’m done with classes and my reading time becomes my own again, perhaps I’ll check out Empire Falls.
I’ve read all of Russo’s books, and he’s one of the few authors with whom I won’t even bother checking reviews, I’ll just go grab whatever he does.
I loved Empire Falls, but there was a character and an event towards the end of the book which didn’t ring true compared to the rest of it. Then again, if you wrote down the average life, some of it wouldn’t ring quite as true as other parts either.
If I was to rank his books from his best to not quite his best, (worst would be an inaccurate term regarding his output), I would do so as follows:
The Risk Pool
(tie)Mohawk, Empire Falls
Canthearya, sorry about that re: The Corrections, but that is only my opinion. YMMV. It just struck me as being in the same vein, and well, a lot more people thought American Beauty was great than had my reaction, which was, “good movie”.
To me it was a lot of preaching to the choir, meaning it is the kind of stuff “Readers of Serious Fiction” would like, along with the sort of people who review books for a living. It’s why we have Trevanian, Donna Tartt, Jay McInerny (who I like), and Woody Allen and Robert Altman movies. Hopefully that contained no spoilers, only opinion.
I haven’t finished Empire Falls yet, in fact I read it last night for the first time since I posted here last. Been too busy. I will probably finish it tonight. My first impressions were not diminished at all upon picking it up a week or so later. Great stuff. I just tried to find a passage that I reread a couple of time last night because I enjoyed it so much, but couldn’t find it. Maybe later.
I borrowed Empire Falls from the library after reading it was the USATODAY book club selection. Since it’s new, the library only lets you keep it for 2 weeks… I got half way through (normally I read quicker than this but it was a busy time for me) and it was due back So, I am stuck waiting for it to be returned (not likely anytime soon) or I’ll have to buy it. I really enjoyed it thus far so I will have to finish it. And here you all are, taunting me!
Bumping this one again… I bought The Risk Pool and am, so far (I just entered the Mohawk Fair portion), disappointed with it. I’m glad I read Empire Falls first because the similarities in the small towns in the two books is a little annoying.
Like the rest of you, Richard Russo is on my short list of authors whom I will read anything they write. I’m on my library’s wait list for EF.
Re: The Corrections - just took that out, and returned it after slogging thru maybe 60 pages. Couldn’t stand any of the characters, and my buddy said - if that’s the case, the next several hundred pages is just more of the same.