8.11.13

EMPIRE FALLS, by Richard Russo

This is one of those books you pick up intending to browse (it's and inch and a half thick, and the print is not oversize) and then, wham, you're hooked, you're reading about people you know, who are familiar to you. At first it seems meandering, a tale told by a slow-talking old man by a campfire, a recounting of the long and slow but inevitable slide into poverty of a mill town in central Maine, and of Miles Roby, who once thought he'd broken free. But the future rarely hold what we had planned...

Empire Falls, Maine, for Miles Roby, is a tar pit: once he'd returned to nurse his dying mother, he'd got  stuck there. Now his marriage has failed (yet his wife, and her totally unappealing lover hang around the Empire Grill); the Empire Grill, a business he runs (with the hope it will some day be his) is rocky (yet he shows up every day, all day), his light-fingered father wins an Olympic gold for selfishness, and his daughter Tick is lurching through a harrowing adolescence. Talk about trouble on all fronts. And that's only for starters.
Read it. Prepare to spend a week immersed in myriad details of these lives, and in the gentle yet sharp prose of a master storyteller. It's a 4.5. Find Richard Russo on Facebook.