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Empire Falls
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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this is a huge-hearted and wonderful novel by a master storyteller.

About the Author

Richard Russo won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for his fifth novel, Empire Falls. He is also the author of Mohawk, The Risk Pool, Nobody's Fool, Straight Man, Bridge of Sighs and That Old Cape Magic, as well as a collection of stories, The Whore's Child; and a memoir, On Helwig Street. His original screenplay is the basis for Rowan Atkinson's film Keeping Mum. He lives with his wife in Maine.

Reviews

In his biggest, boldest novel yet, the much-acclaimed author of Nobody's Fool and Straight Man subjects a full cross-section of a crumbling Maine mill town to piercing, compassionate scrutiny, capturing misfits, malefactors and misguided honest citizens alike in the steady beam of his prose. Wealthy, controlling matriarch Francine Whiting lives in an incongruous Spanish-style mansion across the river from smalltown Empire Falls, dominated by a long-vacant textile mill and shirt factory, once the center of her husband's family's thriving manufacturing dominion. In his early 40s, passive good guy Miles Roby, the son of Francine's husband's long-dead mistress, seems helpless to escape his virtual enslavement as longtime proprietor of the Whiting-owned Empire Grill, the town's most popular eatery, which Francine has promised to leave him when she dies. Miles's wife, Janine, is divorcing him and has taken up with an aging health club entrepreneur. In her senior year in high school, their creative but lonely daughter, Tick, is preoccupied by her parents' foibles and harassed by the bullying son of the town's sleazy cop who, like everyone else, is a puppet of the domineering Francine. Struggling to make some sense of her life, Tick tries to befriend a boy with a history of parental abuse. To further complicate things, Miles's brother, David, is suspected of dealing marijuana, and their rascally, alcoholic father is a constant annoyance. Miles and David's secret plan to open a competing restaurant runs afoul of Francine just as tragedy erupts at the high school. Even the minor members of Russo's large cast are fully fleshed, and forays into the past lend the narrative an extra depth and resonance. When it comes to evoking the cherished hopes and dreams of ordinary people, Russo is unsurpassed. (May) Forecast: A 100,000-copy first printing of this impressive effort would probably fly off shelves even without the support of a 16-city author tour, national advertising and promotion, national media appearances, bookmarks, posters and a reading group guide. Returning with a flourish to familiar smalltown territory after his foray into academia with Straight Man, Russo could make a splash on big-city bestseller lists. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

People don't mind imposing on a nice guy like Miles Roby. Francine Whiting, for instance, owns most of the struggling mill town, including the Empire Grill that Miles manages for her, though she won't agree to the liquor license that might make it profitable. Francine's disabled daughter, Cindy, has a lifelong crush on Miles and has twice attempted suicide over him. His wife has left him for a flashy jerk, a health club owner who comes to the grill daily to taunt Miles; his ne'er-do-well father constantly nags him for handouts; and his daughter Tick seems to care about Miles, but she is navigating the treacherous shoals of high school, with the school bully determined to win her back and a complete outcast dependent on her for friendship. Reader Ron McLarty doesn't get the Maine accent quite right, but his performance will surely prove among the best of the year. Packed with heart and with wonderfully drawn characters (and a good deal funnier than it sounds), Empire Falls is an excellent choice for any library. John Hiett, Iowa City P.L. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"I loved Richard Russo's Pulitzer-winning Empire Falls, a moving, brilliantly imagined and intensely satisfying novel about the slow death of a small town: Russo's characters are as loveable and as exasperating as family" -- Nick Hornby
"His natural grace as a storyteller is matched by his compassion for his characters" -- John Irving
"Like Anne Tyler, Russo is interested in how people rub along; in kindness and responsibility; in cutting slack without being asked. In the Empire Grill he has created a place so involving that not only can you see and smell it, but you start to feel a bit left out of the gin rummy. Russo makes an enormous job of story-telling look effortless. He is, in all the best senses of the word, a natural" * Sunday Times *
"Richard Russo can write like Edith Wharton leavened with a touch of David Lodge" * Economist *
"Russo's command of his story is unerring... He satisfies every expectation without lapsing into predictability, and the last section of the book explodes with surprises...One of the best novelists around" * New York Times *

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