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The Whore's Child


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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.


Russo's sterling reputation is largely due to his astounding ability to present the tangled emotions of troubled parent-child and marital relationships with comic verve, bracing clarity and dramatic tension fused with an undercurrent of pathos. These predicaments are well represented in the seven stories of his first collection, whose protagonists betray themselves and others in different social milieus. The brassy, flaky mother in "Joy Ride," who leaves her stodgy husband in Camden, Maine, and drives across the continent with her 12-year-old son in search of "freedom," may have much in common with the overbearing, intellectually pretentious mother in "The Mysteries of Linwood Hart," in which her 10-year-old son tries to fathom the implicit but inexplicable rules of adult behavior, but one woman is forced to admit defeat in the marital game, and the other is triumphant. In another case of parallel identities, the emotionally constricted college professor in "The Farther You Go" and the professor emeritus in "Buoyancy" must both acknowledge betrayal of their wives, not through deeds but as a result of their cold self-absorption. Ironically, the misogynistic Hollywood photographer in "Monhegan Light" learns a bitter lesson in Martha's Vineyard when he discovers his dead wife's decency in protecting him from knowledge of her longtime affair. The most memorable character here, however, is the title story's Sister Ursula, the daughter of a prostitute whose lifelong search for her absent father ends with a heartbreaking epiphany. Russo's rueful understanding of the twisted skein of human relationships is as sharp as ever, and the dialogue throughout is barbed, pointed and wryly humorous. The collection is a winner. Agents, Nat Sobel and Judith Weber. (July 16) Forecast: Russo's recent Pulitzer for empire Falls put the lie to the assumption that "literary" fiction can't be funny, heartwarming and commercial in the sense of popular sales. Powered by a 50,000 first printing, look for this book to ring up impressive sales. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Russo won the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls, and his skills are equally on display in this collection of stories. Russo is a master of characterization, especially evidenced in two tales concerning boys worrying about their place in the world, and two others focusing on old people whose hold on their lives is slipping. But things do happen in this selection of works, a welcome change from the ethereal effects aimed at by many short story writers. The author reads his own work, and while his narration is engaging, he is no professional. Several times his voice drops at the end of sentences, swallowing what sounds like some of his best lines. These versions of Whore's Child are identical, but libraries will prefer the more expensive Sound Library recording for its stronger packaging and tape replacement policy.-John Hiett, Iowa City P.L. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"An author whose laid-back understatements can be as sharp as other writers' boldest declarations....the architect of stories you can't put down." --The New York Times

"[Russo] has joined those writers who can be said to have coined their own universe.... [He] achieves an emotional balance through his humor and generosity of spirit." --Chicago Sun-Times "The most expansive of contemporary writers." -- The New York Times Book Review "Straightforward and engaging from the first page... Mr. Russo makes writing short stories seem effortless." --Wall Street Journal "These beautifully crafted stories, made more appealing by their rueful humor, are the work of a writer at the top of his game." -New York Post "Russo is a master of the small moment as nuclear explosion, the life-changing turn of the screw. His writing is unornate, but as authoritative (and cool) as marble. . . .The Whore's Child is . . . powerful and moving." -Atlanta Journal Constitution "The vigorous comic voice that has always been Russo's is a great leavening force here. . . . These stories are something to be grateful for." -Newsday "The Whore's Child pulsate[s] with real life." -The New Leader

"[Russo] stands alone as the Stendhal of blue-collar America." -Esquire "Russo again proves himself the master of real-life angst with the comic twist. His characters are sometimes funny, often sad, but never pathetic." -Orlando Sentinel

"The Whore's Child should solidify his reputation....All seven stories are lovely examples of Russo's wit and compassion." -Newark Sunday Star-Ledger

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