On Helwig Street by Richard Russo

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The book is an absorbing portrait of a town, a family, and an artist.
-Guardian

Synopsis

Jean Russo was a single mother in the 1950s, badly paid and living with her parents in Gloversville, New York, a dead-end town whose heyday as the hub of the leather-goods industry was just a distant memory. 'You are getting out of Gloversville' was her mantra throughout Richard's high school years. And when he finally made his intrepid escape from the family home on Helwig Street - fleeing to a far-flung college in a banger nicknamed The Gray Death - Jean saw her chance of a better life elsewhere, and jumped in for the first of many ill-conceived adventures. But life on the run from home took its toll on them both, and in this captivating memoir Russo describes how childhood segued into adulthood and parenthood in the company of his restless mother, for whom the grass was always greener in the place where she was not. At the same time he recounts with touching honesty how his own contentment and literary success were at odds with her lifelong battle against disillusionment and anxiety - and the siren call of Gloversville.
 

About Richard Russo

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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. His original screenplay is the basis for Rowan Atkinson’s film Keeping Mum. He lives with his wife in Maine.
 
Published January 1, 2012 by Chatto & Windus. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for On Helwig Street
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Adam Mars-Jones on Dec 30 2012

Richard Russo acknowledges that it was Jean's faith in him that allowed him to believe in himself, but his portrait of her is belittling.

Read Full Review of On Helwig Street | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by J Robert Lennon on Nov 16 2012

The book is an absorbing portrait of a town, a family, and an artist.

Read Full Review of On Helwig Street | See more reviews from Guardian

Reader Rating for On Helwig Street
80%

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