Best Empire FallsAuthor Richard Russo –

Welcome To Empire Falls, A Blue Collar Town Full Of Abandoned Mills Whose Citizens Surround Themselves With The Comforts And Feuds Provided By Lifelong Friends And Neighbors And Who Find Humor And Hope In The Most Unlikely Places, In This Pulitzer Prize Winning Novel By Richard RussoMiles Roby Has Been Slinging Burgers At The Empire Grill For Years, A Job That Cost Him His College Education And Much Of His Self Respect What Keeps Him There It Could Be His Bright, Sensitive Daughter Tick, Who Needs All His Help Surviving The Local High School Or Maybe It S Janine, Miles Soon To Be Ex Wife, Who S Taken Up With A Noxiously Vain Health Club Proprietor Or Perhaps It S The Imperious Francine Whiting, Who Owns Everything In Town And Seems To Believe That Everything Includes Miles Himself In Empire Falls Richard Russo Delves Deep Into The Blue Collar Heart Of America In A Work That Overflows With Hilarity, Heartache, And Grace

10 thoughts on “Empire Falls

  1. says:

    I suspect that most people reading this review do NOT live in the hometown where they were born You didn t marry your high school sweetheart and or, going on forty, you re not still secretly in love with an old sweetheart who still lives in town You don t live in a couple of sleazy rooms above the diner you run Your ex alcoholic brother and your borderline anorexic teen aged daughter don t flip burgers and wait tables for you Your ex wife s new husband doesn t hang out drinking coffee at the lunch counter trying to be your friend No hard feelings Your Dad doesn t come in trying to get free food and steal beer money from the register The high school bully doesn t still bully you and now he s a cop Your ex mother in law doesn t run the bar across the street from your diner But you re still friends with her because you re the harmless type of guy that mothers want their daughters to marry You don t frequently go out of your way to park outside the house you grew up in and despair that it is now deteriorated and occupied by drug dealers To me, a major theme of this book is what it would be like to have stayed in your hometown As a geographer I enjoy reading and thinking about this theme There are Movers and Stayers and even research studies about how these folks are different we all know both types A recent Pew Research study found that movers tend to be college educated they move for jobs and once they move out of their hometown they are likely to move again in search of better employment and greener pastures The stayers, about 37% of American adults who still live in or around the town they were born in, stay for family ties The Mid West has the highest proportion of stayers the West the least East and South are in the middle The story you have snippets of the story in the things I wrote above about movers and stayers There is a real story here, almost a plot that becomes evident as the story moves along It s tightly knit and revealed bit by bit as we learn the significance of events that the boy experienced early in life without understanding then what was happening And it takes him 40 years to figure some of it out We re in a dying former mill town in Maine, a few hours from Boston A significant component of the story actually involves mover and stayer philosophy when the main character s mother was dying from cancer, she implored him, or less Get out of this town get out don t stay that s why I sent you away to college Even though his mother dies, he chooses to drop out of college and stay An aging widow runs the town Her family owns the now abandoned shirt factory that almost everyone used to work in she even owns the diner that the main character runs and she owns the bar that his mother in law runs Not realizing the full story of how events fit together, even as an adult, the main character does not understand that the widow runs people as well as the town and that she is wreaking vengeance on him in subtle but vicious ways.Along the way we get glimpses of modern American life in such a has been place The re occurring Trump like rumors born of desperation that the factory will re open as if Americans are going to start making shirts again for 2 an hour the church closings due to population loss the probably gay priest the desperation of the left behind elderly like his father who have to borrow and scam people for beer money a horrendous school violence incident Here are a few passages I liked and some reveal a little of the story The short man disliked calling attention to that fact, so The furniture was of the sort used in model homes and trailers to give the impression of spaciousness this optical illusion worked well enough except on those occasions when large people came to visit, and then the effect was that of a lavish dollhouse Kids today stuffed the entire contents of their lockers into their seam stitched backpacks and brought it all home, probably, Miles figured, so they wouldn t have to think through what they d need and what they could do without, thereby avoiding the kinds of decisions that might trail consequences To her way of thinking, any man with no sex drive than Miles Roby the main character possessed might better have just gone ahead and embraced celibacy and been done with it, instead of disappointing poor girls like herself the teen aged daughter thinks at least she didn t have to go to church any now that her mother had replaced Catholicism with aerobics The donut shop in Empire Falls had always been one of Max Roby s favorite places because of its smoking policy, which was, Go ahead See if we care The old Alzheimer prone priest thinks of the main character s father he d always held Max Roby in the lowest possible esteem as a blasphemer, a shiftless charmer, a drinker and a general ne er do well What he seemed less clear about was why he d objected to these qualities The younger priest says of the older priest s strange utterances I understand why it s coming out but how do you suppose it got in there Listening to people talk on the telephone, for Father Tom s way of thinking, was the next best thing to hearing confessions When the main character is a young boy, his father is arrested as a public nuisance Having this short phrase to describe him was better than suspecting that his father was so different and unnatural that nobody had yet invented a way to describe him It pleased him to imagine God as someone like his mother, someone beleaguered by too many responsibilities, too dog tired to monitor an energetic boy every minute of the day, but who, out of love and fear for his safety, checked in on him whenever she could Surely God must have other projects besides Man, just as parents had responsibilities other than raising their children I liked the well knit, slowly revealed plot and I loved the humor and the irony, shown in some of the quotes above A great read and I m adding it to my favorites first one in a couple of months photo of Gem Diner, syracusenews.commill in Maine from

  2. says:

    coup de foudre A sudden unexpected event, especially an emotional one love at first sight The reviews that I find the most difficult to write are not the negative or even the glowing ones, but the ones about books that that may be not the best written or the best plotted but touch me on a personal level, the ones that strike close to my inner core I haven t read any other novel by Richard Russo, but starting on Empire Falls felt like going to a party where you don t know anybody, starting up a conversation with a stranger, and finding that you are kindred souls, ending up on the balcony talking and talking and talking about life, the universe and everything until the sun comes up.Empire Falls is about a small factory town in Maine paper and textile mills , after the industry has packed its bags and left for a third world country Left behind are the former workers, now haunting the derelict streets like zombies, emotionally drained and too tired to even consider starting over.The poster boy of Empire Falls is Miles Roby, a middle aged man who has been flipping burgers at the Empire Grill for twenty years Brought back temporarily from a promising start in a Boston college by a family crisis, Miles is now struggling to keep the business afloat for his wealthy owner, to cope with divorce and with a teenage daughter, with a brother recovering from drug addiction, with a dad who is a grifter and a crook, with an old flame returning to town and with another old flame that is still ignoring his tentative advances He also spends a lot of his time reminiscing about the past and about the wrong turns that had put him in this dead end spot.I will not try to explain about the plot, other than mentioning that there is a lot of resentment and passion running like an undercurrent through the placid town, leading to a devastating conclusion By following Miles Roby down memory lane, I have got to know not only the secret history of Empire Falls, but also the personal dramas of his friends and families By the end of the story, I felt like I have also spend part of my life in a rundown industrial town Ploiesti right now is nor exactly prosperous, not at the end of its tether either This is for me the forte of Richard Russo his empathy for these fallible people, his sharp insights delivered with a compassionate touch I only have one quote to illustrate my point, but there are numerous others in the story that I left behind, focusing instead on the families and their troubles Miles is watching his daughter s schoolmates sitting at a table in his diner My God, he couldn t help thinking, how terrible it is to be that age, to have emotions so near the surface that the slightest turbulence causes them to boil over That, very simply, was what adulthood must be all about acquiring the skill to bury things deeply Out of sight and, whenever possible, out of mind Empire Falls is not a happy story, although it does occasionally remembers to laugh or to be tender The major tonality is one of loneliness and sadness, and this is why I was reminded of how a picture can paint a thousand words, and why I decided that the best way to capture the impression it made on me is to include some artwork in my review how I imagine Empire Falls, the town how I imagine Empire Grill, the diner Tick and her boyfriend in the evening the isolated house by the railroad yes, there is one spooky house in the novel Miles Roby s wife Miles Roby s mother, as a young woman all images copyright Edward Hopper

  3. says:

    The small Maine town of Empire Falls has seen better days The local and once booming timber and textile industries have run their course and all that remains is the abandoned and decrepit real estate of what once was The blue collar workers of this small New England community struggle to find the few jobs remaining that allow them to keep the wolf at the door and food on the table, ever hopeful of revitalized opportunities And it is here that we meet Miles Roby, manager of The Empire Grill Miles is a good and decent man who did not always dream of flipping burgers and taking care of the grill, in fact at one time he had promising opportunities slated for his future But then life, as it is wont to do, bit back and he answered an urgent call to return home from college and help care for his ailing Mother The vast majority of the real estate and by extension the job opportunities in Empire Falls are owned and controlled by the Whiting family or to be precise, Francine Whiting This really is not a plot driven novel The real bounty here lay in the character development of the residents of Empire Falls that we largely come to know through Miles Roby And oh my word, what a treasure trove of characters they are So real and flawed, everyday folk, fleshed out so well by Russo s pen that you may find yourself recognizing a few of them within your own circle of associates, friends and family Seriously I am so astounded by the raw talent on display here These people walk, talk and breathe, stagger and stink all over these pages And such a wide cast of people, each saddled with their own histories, beliefs, resentments, weaknesses, dreams and strengths and real life struggles I feel like I know them all intimately.When you get to know people that well, for better or worse, you care about what happens to them And there is a lot going on here Miles is on the cusp of a divorce and his ex s future husband loves to hang about and taunt him His brother is a recovering addict and Miles just can t be sure he won t fall off the wagon Then there is his teenage daughter Tick who is spreading her own wings while coping with the ruins of her parents marriage His employer, the stoic Francine, maintains a strange hold over Miles and his father is the most colourful, odiferous vagrant you are ever likely to meet And so many What Russo has accomplished here in Empire Falls is nothing short of masterful It is a social novel on a grand scale that reflects real life issues with all the inherent joys and sorrows, beauty and blisters This is epic storytelling that will extend its gracious arms in welcome and bruise your battered, hopeful heart.

  4. says:

    Lives are rivers We imagine we can direct their paths, though in the end there s but one destination, and we end up being true to ourselves only because we have no choice People speak of selfishness, but that s another folly, because of course there s no such thing I ve been pondering this quote for some time now after having finished Richard Russo s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Empire Falls Is it true that we have no choice in where our lives take us Do we only perceive that we have choices and opportunities, whereas in fact our paths are predetermined Or does believing such a precept just mean that one is placing blame on circumstances that can in fact be overcome The message may be found within the pages of this extraordinary novel Empire Falls centers on the lives of those characters that live in this small town of Maine During its glory days, the town flourished due to the logging and textile industries run by the all powerful Whiting family Nowadays, the town is run down, yet many of its inhabitants remain hopeful that some day it will once again prosper This is due largely to the fact that the mill and the factory remain intact, a vision of what used to be and what could be if someone would only grasp the opportunity What does remain and stands as the focal point of the actual happenings in the town is the Empire Grill The Empire Grill was long and low slung, with windows that ran its entire length, and since the building next door, a Rexall drugstore, had been condemned and razed, it was now possible to sit at the lunch counter and see straight down Empire Avenue all the way to the old textile mill and its adjacent shirt factory Both had been abandoned now for the better part of two decades, though their dark, looming shapes at the foot of the avenue s gentle incline continued to draw the eye It is here that we meet Miles Roby, manager of the Empire Grill What fascinates me about small towns is the fact that many of its people really never get away Despite economic instability, there is a core of folks that seem to stick it out perhaps they don t perceive a means of escape or maybe they see the town for what it once was and that memory eclipses any sense of hardship Miles Roby, with a major push and the support of his mother, did get out only to return once again due to circumstances that seemed out of his control Now under the thumb of Francine Whiting, reigning heiress to the Whiting fortune, Miles seems to have reached a dead end, much like the town itself He lives in a shabby apartment over the grill, is soon to be divorced, and has responsibilities to his teenage daughter, Tick, his deadbeat father, Max, and his recovering alcoholic brother, David Through him we also meet a wealth of other complex individuals some good, some not so good, and some downright cringe worthy And yet, under the masterful pen of Russo, each character is written in a way that completely absorbs your full attention However mundane each person appears on the surface, he or she still manages to throb with life on each page The interactions and dialogue in this book are superb believable, gripping, sometimes sad, and often humorous The novel is at heart a character driven story There exists a plot that is very slowly and deliberately revealed a couple of turns that I did not fully anticipate Don t expect quick action you will be disappointed And yet, I found myself nearly holding my breath towards the end of the book I was that entangled with the lives of the characters I was hopeful for the future of the town and its people There was something in nearly each person that I could relate to and understand What I came to realize in the end is that we should each grab hold of our dreams, take control of our circumstances, and in fact change the direction of that river We may not end up exactly where we imagined, but neither do we need to flounder and succumb to its currents I think it would be safe to say that even though this is my first I know right, where have I been Richard Russo novel, he will be on my list of favorite authors This book has those elements I adore in my books memorable and extremely well drawn characters, brilliant writing, and surprising plot twists 5 stars After all, what was the whole wide world but a place for people to yearn for their hearts impossible desires, for those desires to become entrenched in defiance of logic, plausibility, and even the passage of time, as eternal as polished marble

  5. says:

    This was my first taste of Richard Russo s wonderful prose and lifelike characters The book follows the lives of Miles Roby and his family in the dying industrial town of Empire Falls, Maine The town itself is beautifully described throughout as the book transpires over a school year Miles daughter Tick s senior year at Empire High I really loved how Russo writes dialog both exterior and interior and his sense of humor and irony Most of the time, I felt like I was sitting in the Empire Grill listening to Walt doing his Perry Como impersonations while Horace was beating him in gin, Max was trying to steal money from the till, David was slinging burgers with his one good hand, Tick was ringing the bell over the door as she came in slumped over by her heavy backpack The way that Russo uses beats in dialogs greatly added to the realism I also found the two antagonists, Francine Whiting and Jimmy Minty, to be great foils to Miles The bool weaves wonderful parallels between the past and present and is rich in analogies The central message is one of taking responsibility for one s fate rather than blaming circumstances for one s shortcomings Both the Prologue and Epilogue are wonderful bookends to the main story I can definitely see how he earned his Pulitzer in 2002 for this fantastic book I have subsequently read Nobody s Fool and Everybody s Fool and loved and reviewed both here on GR.

  6. says:

    In this past year of reading I ve found it easy to get through a book quickly, decide whether I enjoyed it or not, and move on to the next book in the infinite pile Most books I ll read in a week or so, and I approach my leisure time in a workman like manner it is relaxation time, but it also follows a pretty regular schedule Rare are the books that cause me to slow down and delay finishing a novel simply to prolong the enjoyment provided by its reading Empire Falls is that type of book It is the perfect type of book for winter it moves at a leisurely pace, is rich in character, and has absolutely stunning writing Empire Falls is a close as you can get to a perfect novel.But a pitch perfect novel is not exactly what you d expect from reading the synopsis printed on the back of the novel Miles Roby is a soon to be divorced manager at the Empire Grill trying to raise his high school age daughter Tick in rural Maine Miles is stuck under the thumb of Mrs Whitting, a local woman who owns much of the town s real estate, businesses, and a good deal of the populace There s a plot, but the novel builds a story that revolves around character, and it is those characters that propel the book forward Man, oh man, are the characters ever impressive Miles is whom the reader spends the most time with, and the conflict between his desire for a better life and the desire to be a good man is at the heart of the story While I loved Miles, what is truly impressive is that Russo brings to life an entire town in entirely believable detail You ll remember Max Roby and be able to share Miles disdain for his father But you ll also know Max and feel a familiar excitement for his appearances and the humorously twisted moral compass he employs Each and every character, even in the most minor of appearances, feels as if they could walk in your door as soon as you put the book down My grandfather and I did a buddy read for this book We both remarked that we knew so many of characters as they hewed so closely to the people from the rural lives we had lived The writing here is, as I ve mentioned, breathtaking in its beauty and insight Russo has packed a lot into this almost 500 page novel, and not a word of it feels wasted He effortlessly moves from a scene at the grill, to a brief accounting of a newly arrived character s life, and back to the scene without ever making me feel like the story meandered So much of the beauty of the book comes from Russo s ability to build an entire town piece by piece, with POVs from characters that range in social standing and disposition, each serving to highlight another aspect of Empire Falls Russo also makes profound and poignant statements in the novel that make for some of the most personally genuine writing I ve ever read I started at first to jot down passages I wanted to include in this review, but gave up after 100 pages There s just too much here to bother trying to include it all I can t begin to recall how many times I finished a chapter, set the book down, and just took a bit of time to ponder what I d just read As for themes, Empire Falls deals with all the big stuff you d expect to see from Pulitzer Prize winning fiction Miles is pulled between duty and desire throughout the entire novel, but his inertia constantly keeps him from acting in any major way to affect change in his life Russo deals with the events in life that shape complex adults from the supple clay of childhood He examines morality from all different angles, with all of his characters caught in some sort of ethically gray squabble throughout the story Not all the characters make the right decisions, but I would never fault Russo as the decisions are always backed up by the characters upbringing, personality, or recent changes in their lives Life, death, what makes a good life, and the influence we have on others It s a heavy set of themes that Russo deals with in admirable fashion.To bring it all home, Empire Falls is simply one of the best novels I ve ever read, and possibly the best novel I ve read in 2016 I loved the characters, the setting, and the overlapping pursuits, desires, and interactions of the township make for a novel that never once bored me through the entire read The book is long, I ll give you that, but it is patient than slow, and embracing that patience yielded one of the most rewarding reading experiences I ve had all year Should you exercise the same patience, you too will be rewarded with an absolutely breathtaking novel.

  7. says:

    Empire Falls, Maine is a town that s best days are long behind it The mill and factory that used to be the main employers have been closed for years, and the only person around with two dimes to rub together is the very rich Francine Whiting who essentially owns and controls everything worth having in the area Miles Robey was on the verge of earning his college degree and escaping Empire Falls forever when he returned home to care for his dying mother and ended up working for Mrs Whiting as the manager of the Empire Grill.Two decades later and Miles is a middle aged punching bag still slinging burgers who probably bursts into tears every time he hears Pearl Jam s Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town His selfish wife Janine is divorcing Miles to marry health club owner Walt Comeau who likes to stop by the Empire Grill every afternoon to rub it in Miles father Max is the town neer do well who is impervious to guilt and is constantly trying to get money out of him Town cop Jimmy Minty starts approaching Miles under the guise of friendship but has some long simmering grudge against him Worst of all is that Miles has to report the slender profits to Mrs Whiting even as she refuses to pay for any improvements to the increasingly shabby diner The one bright spot in life for Miles is his teen aged daughter Tick who he loves dearly and has a close relationship with.This is the first book I ve read by Russo Although I ve seen the movie version of Nobody s Fool , and I absolutely loved it At least until the ending, but we ll get to that shortly The depiction of a small blue collar town slowly going under was done incredibly well from the opening that describes how Empire Falls has been ruled by the Whitings for generations and how heir C.B went from his dream of wanting to be a poet and artist in Mexico to running the family business and marrying Francine.The characters are another big selling point because there s a lot than I described in the brief summary above, and all of them seem rich and fully developed It s to Russo s credit that he was able to make a cast that includes some absolutely infuriating and unpleasant people and make you at least understand all of them There were times where I wished that Miles would push his father out of a moving car or toss a pan full of hot grease into the face of Walt, but there was also a certain obnoxious charm to them most of the time.Miles is the heart of the book, and I was a little worried that I wasn t going to like him much in the early going I m generally not a fan of passive characters that are so wrapped up in regrets and unearned guilt that they re essentially just pawns for anyone looking to use them, and Miles fits this description to a T Being raised Catholic by his selfless mother has convinced him that wanting anything is practically a sin, and he s almost pathologically incapable of standing up for himself However, Miles brother is constantly calling him out for taking the path of least resistance and urging him to at least try to change his circumstances That awareness of his nature and the flashes of backbone that Miles shows at times make him sympathetic despite being pretty much a doormat.As far as the ending view spoiler I loved that Mrs Whiting had essentially turned Miles into an indentured servant because of the affair his mother had with her husband Miles seemed exceptionally slow on the uptake there, but the hardest place to see a trap is from inside it However, I was less pleased with other elements John Voss shooting the people in the high school was the kind of dramatic moment that it would take for Miles to make a big gesture like leaving Empire Falls to protect Tick So while I wasn t sold on the idea of this character driven story about small town secrets and regrets turning into a ripped from the headlines tragedy, it made sense in that respect But I didn t like how everything got kind of deus ex machina after that Mrs Whiting drowns, Jimmy Minty is disgraced, Zach gets shipped off to Seattle, Janine leaves Walt all while David and Bea get the new restaurant going That all just seemed a little too convenient for Miles hide spoiler

  8. says:

    Now and then, you find a book which manages to enthrall you so deeply that you simply know you will return to it over and over again, perhaps to embrace the writing style, perhaps to meet these characters again or perhaps to simply let yourself be immersed by the wonderful atmosphere of that specific book Empire Falls is such a book I loved every single page of this book, and yet I know there are readers who would rip this book apart, saying things like nothing ever happens or where is the plot If you actually plan to read this novel, you have to be prepared to find a book which focuses on character development than anything else Richard Russo, the author of this Pulitzer Prize winning novel, concentrates mainly on the huge cast of characters he introduces and develops throughout these 500 pages, as well as building an atmosphere which will make you feel as if you have relocated to Empire Falls, Maine, this curious little town with its huge story.It is difficult to explain the events in Empire Falls , considering the huge amount of characters involved in this novel We accompany our main character, Miles Roby, on an insightful journey through his life, but Russo also constantly delves into the minds of different characters by changing the point of view to another character All the different story lines find their connection in Miles Roby, a middle aged, divorced father who runs the Empire Grill, a greasy spoon diner We meet his ex wife Janine Roby, who has developed a rather selfish attitude since her divorce and whose main concerns are now her weight and her social status Their smart daughter Tick is confronted with her own problems in school, where she meets John Voss, her awkward, introverted classmate We meet Miles younger brother David, a chief cook and former alcoholic as well as their difficult father Max and their late mother Grace through a number of flashbacks we meet Janine s arrogant fianc Walt Comeau, police officer Jimmy Minty who holds a grudge against Miles, his son Zack who has once been involved with Tick and of course Francine Whiting, the widow of the wealthiest man of Empire Falls who now owns half of the town and particularly Miles.Richard Russo introduces us to a huge amount of other characters as well, making it appear that it is rather easy to lose track of who is actually who and which character has which characteristics However, Russo always manages to introduce his characters in a very memorable way, with every single minor character contributing an important part to the story line No person is introduced without a reason, and they are all developed in a very balanced way Goodhearted Miles Roby also has his dark sides, but antagonists such as Zack and Jimmy Minty or Walt Comeau never appear as stereotypical villains Russo spends a lot of time on creating realistic characters, and he does than just succeed He creates characters you are unlikely to ever forget After all, what was the whole wide world but a place for people to yearn for their heart s impossible desires, for those desires to become entrenched in defiance of logic, plausibility, and even the passage of time, as eternal as polished marble For me personally, Russo s prose was very inspirational, but he found the perfect balance between humor and seriousness At times, you will not be able to stop laughing thanks to Russo s subtle humor At other times, you will start wondering about subjects you never thought even existed Even now, after having finished this book, I can open it on a random page and find a new aspect to think about Of course it is possible to detect a plot in this novel, but it s not the most important thing in its essence, Empire Falls can be called a social study, exploring a small town to its very core and delving deep into everyone s secrets without causing their stories to feel far fetched or excessively melodramatic All of these characters might well be your neighbors, that s how realistically Russo portrays them He ultimately builds up to a thrilling climax, which leads everything to a satisfying ending which stays close to the core of the characters and the town.Many relationships in this novel are defined by either resentment or kindness, but all of these relationships find themselves tested in the course of the book Each character has to explore themes such as responsibility or, most importantly, humanity, which is essentially what the book is about in my opinion What makes us human What defines humanity Can we call ourselves human in spite of all our sins The blurb of the edition I own describes the novel with characters who will disarm you, a plot with as many twists and falls as the Knox River the river which flows through Empire Falls itself, and an ending that will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck I couldn t agree Even when I put this book aside, I could never resist returning to it in my thoughts And let s take a moment to appreciate that beautiful cover at least in the edition which I have linked my review to.I should mention that perhaps I should hate this book rather than loving it after all, I have not been able to motivate myself to read anything for about five weeks after finishing Empire Falls I simply couldn t imagine to find something similarly good again But this was only my personal experience, so if you intend to read this novel, don t get your expectations too high To me, 500 pages of Richard Russo felt like 1,500 pages of J.K Rowling Russo s prose is so simple and yet beautiful that I was constantly tempted to reread chapters immediately In addition, Russo tends to create complex sentences and releases a lot of information embedded into his sentences upon his readers, which is why you will have to read every chapter very carefully in order to understand the characters conflicts and the background stories And there comes a time in your life when you realize that if you don t take the opportunity to be happy, you may never get another chance again I can honestly say that Russo s novel changed my life to some extent His prose provides constant food for thoughts, he makes you overthink your own values and standards by pushing you towards questions like, What would I do if I was in the same situation as this character Many other reviewers have already praised this novel, so I don t think I was able to add anything else to what they already wrote, but I certainly hope that Richard Russo will continue to receive attention for the masterful novel he created Though it should be mentioned that if you usually only read fantasy, sci fi, thrillers or romance novels, you may not enjoy this very much The trailer for the TV series I linked in the next paragraph may give you a feeling for the novel s atmosphere and help you decide whether you d appreciate reading this or not.For readers of literary adult realistic fiction or however this genre may be called , I d call this novel a safe bet You won t be disappointed If you are still interested, I am going to provide you with some further information on the TV mini series which was closely adapted from Russo s novel in 2005.This trailer catches the atmosphere of the series pretty well, just like the series was capable of portraying a very similar atmosphere to the one depicted in the novel The series shines with a stellar cast Ed Harris, Helen Hunt, Paul Newman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Joanne Woodward, Kate Burton, William Fichtner and Aidan Quinn Over the course of 200 minutes, the series depicts every major event from the novel in a very similar fashion, and finds the correct balance between its own choices and the book s defaults There is not much wrong with this series, except perhaps that just like the novel itself I did not want it to end once I started watching it.You are immediately swept into the atmosphere of the story, and fabulous actors allow to instantly make all of these characters appear interesting Paul Newman puts all his acting weight into his performance as Max Roby, a role very different from his iconic roles such as Butch Cassidy, Henry Gondorff or Cold Hand Luke Ed Harris shines as Miles Roby, a role in which he is finally allowed to play than just the antagonist though Harris never fails to do so in a convincing manner or the minor character his roles are often treated as in many movies Robin Wright gracefully makes the role of Grace her own, though she still only presents us with small nuances of what she is actually capable of just a random note you should watch House of Cards if you haven t yet, even if only for Robin Wright s and Kevin Spacey s stellar performances Those three actors stood out in the most memorable way for me personally, but in the end, there was not a single performance which disappointed me.Ultimately, I d highly recommend watching this series if you have read the book The series works well on its own, but it works even better after having read the book before.

  9. says:

    Bittersweet story about everyday life in a small town, or so it seems I have to admit that I was a little bored at the beginning of it the prologue was a little dry, in my opinion , but once I got into the present day scenario, Russo gradually brought the storyline to a powerful culmination and held my interest to the end.

  10. says:

    I ve really fallen in love with the characters in this one.To me, the most difficult thing to do in literature is develop a character Character driven novels are a gamble because if they are not handled correctly, they can crash and burn before they ve taken off Plot driven novels are a safer bet, but then you d miss out on an opportunity to really provoke your reader I liked Empire Falls primarily because of how real Miles and Max and Mrs Whiting, etc felt to me.This book encompasses what it must have been like although I m only imagining here to live in a small New England town suffering through a period of economic decay It is depressing, and yet it isn t because of the characters Somehow Miles inspires hope in the reader, and Max s frustrating personality actually serves to make a point in addition to providing comic relief , which is that you don t actually have to take life so seriously I mean, you can if you want But you don t have to And even Mrs Whiting speaks volumes She may be vicious and manipulative on the surface, but the the reader discovers about her, the he is able to empathize with her She has struggled than any other character in the novel and yet she presents herself stoically How very New England of her And so do we find out for sure whether there s a heart of gold underneath all that armor Nope Because really, not much happens in this story plot wise But it almost doesn t matter because it is the great set of characters in this book that, for me, made it most enjoyable.