Empire Falls by Richard Russo

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Synopsis

Richard Russo—from his first novel, Mohawk, to his most recent, Straight Man—has demonstrated a peerless affinity for the human tragicomedy, and with this stunning new novel he extends even further his claims on the small-town, blue-collar heart of the country.

Dexter County, Maine, and specifically the town of Empire Falls, has seen better days, and for decades, in fact, only a succession from bad to worse. One by one, its logging and textile enterprises have gone belly-up, and the once vast holdings of the Whiting clan (presided over by the last scion’s widow) now mostly amount to decrepit real estate. The working classes, meanwhile, continue to eke out whatever meager promise isn’t already boarded up.

Miles Roby gazes over this ruined kingdom from the Empire Grill, an opportunity of his youth that has become the albatross of his daily and future life. Called back from college and set to work by family obligations—his mother ailing, his father a loose cannon—Miles never left home again. Even so, his own obligations are manifold: a pending divorce; a troubled younger brother; and, not least, a peculiar partnership in the failing grill with none other than Mrs. Whiting. All of these, though, are offset by his daughter, Tick, whom he guides gently and proudly through the tribulations of adolescence.

A decent man encircled by history and dreams, by echoing churches and abandoned mills, by the comforts and feuds provided by lifelong friends and neighbors, Miles is also a patient, knowing guide to the rich, hardscrabble nature of Empire Falls: fathers and sons and daughters, living and dead, rich and poor alike. Shot through with the mysteries of generations and the shattering visitations of the nation at large, it is a social novel of panoramic ambition, yet at the same time achingly personal. In the end, Empire Falls reveals our worst and best instincts, both our most appalling nightmares and our simplest hopes, with all the vision, grace and humanity of truly epic storytelling.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Richard Russo

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Richard Russo is the author of Mohawk, The Risk Pool, Straight Man, Nobody's Fool, and Empire Falls, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and a collection of stories, The Whore's Child. He and his wife live in coastal Maine.
 
Published November 9, 2011 by Vintage. 495 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Empire Falls

Kirkus Reviews

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Russo’s genius for loosely episodic storytelling hasn’t faded, but here it’s expertly yoked to several smartly paced parallel plots, whose origins and ramifications are spelled out in extended italicized flashbacks (as well as in a moving explanatory epilogue)—and focus in turn on the unhappy mar...

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BC Books

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Miles is haunted by his past, by his mother who's trying to make a better life for her kids despite his deadbeat dad, her love affair with a rich man whose widow torments Miles to this day.

Jun 18 2006 | Read Full Review of Empire Falls

Entertainment Weekly

But there are some interesting blips: Russo, for instance, discloses that a crafty cat might be the reincarnation of Robin Wright Penn's character.

Sep 13 2005 | Read Full Review of Empire Falls

Entertainment Weekly

Richard Russo may be best known as the author of Nobody's Fool, the small-town novel that became the basis of the sweet-souled 1994 Paul Newman movie.

May 18 2001 | Read Full Review of Empire Falls

CNN.com

(Entertainment Weekly) -- River metaphors run thickly and unsubtly through "Empire Falls," Richard Russo's adaptation of his own lovely novel of the same name.

May 27 2005 | Read Full Review of Empire Falls

Variety

We learn, too, of the longing Francine's crippled daughter, Cindy (Kate Burton), has harbored for Miles through the years, even as her mother almost vengefully holds him in thrall.

May 25 2005 | Read Full Review of Empire Falls

Variety

We learn, too, of the longing Francine's crippled daughter, Cindy (Kate Burton), has harbored for Miles through the years, even as her mother almost vengefully holds him in thrall.

May 25 2005 | Read Full Review of Empire Falls

Reader Rating for Empire Falls
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