In an age of wall-to-wall political commentary, one of the most popular topics of discussion is America's working class. We talk about "disaffected voters" and underemployment over camera shots of shuttered factories and crumbling railroad trestles. It's all to easy too gloss over the lives of the people themselves and reduce them to demographic trends.
Few have written about the frustrations of working class America as compassionately, as poignantly, and with as much humor as Richard Russo. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2002 for his novel, Empire Falls, a portrait of a fading New England mill town.
His latest novel is Everybody's Fool. It's the sequel to his bestselling 1993 novel Nobody's Fool, and it takes us back to the town of North Bath, New York — another fictional town that's somewhere on the spectrum between struggling and cursed.
Richard Russo will be appearing Wednesday, May 4 at Brookline Booksmith.
Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist.
- "When you reach the end of a Richard Russo novel, you may need a few moments to acknowledge that it really is time to leave the town, the intricate world, he has created for you. Russo — author of novels, short stories, screenplays — again and again shows himself to be a master at evoking the bruising heartaches and not-trivial triumphs of small-town Americans, especially those living in the struggling towns where manufacturing’s heyday is long past."
- "A decade has passed in North Bath, and it’s been a deadly one. Death, in fact, is the crucible of Russo’s comedy. The novel opens at a burial service in the drab Hilldale cemetery where a local judge is being interred. Standing by the gravesite is the police chief, Douglas Raymer, just a minor character in 'Nobody’s Fool' but now the luckless, misanthropic hero of the new novel. (To pile on another loss, Raymer was played by Philip Seymour Hoffman in the movie.) The first four chapters — a 70-page virtuoso performance — take place in real time, entirely during the minister’s vacuous eulogy. While the mourners sweat in their Sunday best, Russo lays out the whole doomed town, the ugly sibling of super-successful Schuyler Springs right next door."
This segment aired on May 4, 2016.