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Elsewhere: A Memoir

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About the Author

Richard Russo is the author of eight novels; two collections of stories; and Elsewhere, a memoir. In 2002 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls, which like Nobody's Fool was adapted to film, in a multiple-award-winning HBO miniseries.


"An intimate and powerful family story . . . impeccably told." --Chicago Tribune "Moving and darkly funny. . . . Russo mines grace from his gritty hometown." --The Wall Street Journal "One of the most honest, moving American memoirs in years. . . . Russo's intellectual and emotional honesty are remarkable." --NPR Books "Russo conjures the incredible bond between single mother and only child in a way that makes his story particularly powerful." --The Daily Beast "Redemption is always the prize in a Russo story. Nowhere do we see that more clearly than in Elsewhere, a brave little book in which a writer spins deprivation into advantage, suffering into wisdom, and a broken mother into a muse." --The Washington Post "Vivid . . . devastating. . . . Russo brings the remarkable compassion he's known for in his fiction to this account." --The Christian Science Monitor "Russo is the Bruce Springsteen of novelists. . . . In a paragraph or even a phrase, he can summon up a whole world." --Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air "Funny and winning. . . . This stirring book belongs to Jean and Rick." --The New York Times Book Review "Filled with insights, by turn tender and tough, about human fidelity, frailty, forbearance, and fortitude." --The Philadelphia Inquirer "A quietly riveting portrait. . . . Elsewhere depicts the tenacious grip that Gloversville exerted on mother and son alike." --The New York Observer "Exquisite. . . . Elsewhere is a memoir and a bravura essay, a meditation on negotiating flaws." --The Miami Herald "Richard Russo has mined his childhood with enormous energy, humor and craftsmanship. . . . Readers discovering Russo through this memoir and then returning to his first few titles are embarking on a delightful voyage with a gifted writer about whom they now know a great deal." --The Seattle Times "Affecting. . . . Russo's parallel themes of people and place come together elegantly." --San Francisco Chronicle "A real-life mystery about his mother's demons. . . . Russo writes without bitterness, but with the kind of clear-eyed compassion he bestows on his fictional characters." --USA Today "Rich and layered. . . . Russo's memoir is an honest book about a universal subject: those familial bonds that only get trickier with time." --Minneapolis Star Tribune "Outstanding." --Chicago Sun-Times

This memoir focuses on Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Russo's (Empire Falls) life as the only child of an emotionally ill mother. Single after a brief marriage to his father, Jean worked at General Electric in Schenectady, NY, not far from the Gloversville flat she rented in her parents' house, despite her pride in being independent. Prone to emotional outbursts followed by calm periods, Russo's mother thought happiness would be available if she could just be elsewhere. Finally, she quit her job to move to Arizona with Russo when he goes there to college; it was then that Russo acknowledged her illness. Even after he married, had children, and had established a career, his mother's demands continued to shape the family dynamics. Verdict Without sentimentality, Russo succeeds in writing a poignant and humorous account of coping with his beautiful, charming, yet destructive mother. Recommended for readers interested in Russo's life and his upstate New York roots, as well as anyone with a mentally ill loved one.-Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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