A big new American novel for our times, by the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Empire Falls, about innocence and cynicism, optimism and despair, mining the secrets of society and the human heart in a rich, dramatic and big-hearted story of families and growing up, and the secrets which define a community - rich, sinuous and surprising, with new and darker undercurrents.
Richard Russo won a Pulitzer Prize for his previous novel Empire Falls, which has been made into an HBO tv series starring Paul Newman, Ed Harris, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Helen Hunt. He is also the author of Mohawk, The Risk Pool, Nobody's Fool and Straight Man, as well as a collection of stories, The Whore's Child. He has collaborated with Robert Benton on the screenplays for Nobody's Fool and Twilight. His original screenplay is the basis for Rowan Atkinson's new film Keeping Mum, with Maggie Smith and Kristin Scott Thomas. He lives in Maine.
With the same humor and pathos that turned Empire Falls and Straight Man into best sellers, Russo's latest tale unravels the tangled skein of love, regret, hope, and longing that wraps itself around friends and family in a small upstate New York town. Russo's multi-generational tale follows the fortunes of two families, especially the careers of the respective sons. Although Louis Charles Lynch and Bobby Marconi come from very different backgrounds, they bond over Bobby's defense of Lou in elementary school. As they grow older, they drift apart, with Bobby changing his name to Robert Noonan and moving to Venice, where he becomes a world-famous artist. Louis stays in Thomaston, marries high school sweetheart Sarah (also an artist), and helps out his family in their grocery store. Although Louis reluctantly agrees to visit Venice with Sarah, several events converge to alter their plans (including Sarah and Bobby's possible love for each other), and their lives change in ways that neither could have anticipated. While Russo's tale gets off to a slow start and the attempt to tell the parallel stories of Louis and Bobby is not always successful, Russo's novel is nevertheless a winning story of the strange ways that parents and children, lovers and friends connect and thrive. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/07.]-Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Evanston, IL Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
The challenge facing those who perform Russo's novels is the self-effacing, low-key nature of his protagonists. The line between a faithful rendition of the character and a snoozer may be as narrow as the street that divides the rich from the poor in Russo's upstate New York town of Thomaston. Unfortunately, Morey's performance finds itself the poor side of the tracks. Lou C. ("Lucy") Lynch's narration of events is read in an even, objective tone as if Morey were reading the evening news on an amateur radio show. He does emphasize words and ideas, but the overall effect is monotonous and doesn't do justice to Russo's rich material. Morey's narrative voice for Bobby, Lucy's childhood friend and nemesis, is deeper but more of the same. Morey gives a bit more energy to the third narrator, Sarah, Lou's wife. The result is more soporific than a Thanksgiving turkey, and getting through Russo's sharp account of the factory towns he knows so well becomes more a chore than a pleasure. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 13). (Oct.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.