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Nobody's fool
Richard Russo
Adult Fiction RUSSO

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From Publishers' Weekly:

It's about time that people looking for a good read discovered the novels of Richard Russo. It's not just that he writes with panache, his verbal dexterity a mixture of biting wit and potent insight. He also endows his subjects-- blue-collar people living in economically desperate communities--with dignity, finding in their humble circumstances the essential questions of existence. Yet here as in his previous novels, Mohawk and The Risk Pool , the events in his protagonist's life are the material of rollicking high comedy. A succession of contretemps conspire to keep Donald ``Sully'' Sullivan mired in a morass of bad luck, compounded at every turn by his own stubborn, self-destructive streak. Financial solvency has always eluded Sully, an unemployed construction worker. At 60, he is suffering from a badly mangled, constantly aching knee, the consequence of a typically foolish accident; his pickup truck is moribund; his long-time mistress is restive; his ex-wife is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and his son Peter has come home for Thanksgiving with news that his marriage is disintegrating and that he has lost his job. Sully's sagging fortunes are mirrored by his community's decline. North Bath, N.Y., is a town prosperity has shunned: its signature hot springs mysteriously dried up years ago and a projected Ultimate Escape theme park is doomed never to materialize. Sully's financial problems might be solved by the sale of his dead father's dilapidated house, but Sully's gnawing hatred of Big Jim, a viciously mean, hypocritical bully, renders him incapable of profiting from his father's estate. His emotional distance from Big Jim left Sully incapable of forging a bond with Peter, or indeed, of establishing any relationship that he cannot address with a wisecrack or a teasing quip. In fact (and somewhat improbably), all the characters in the novel have the gift of a silver tongue: the dialogue often consists of verbal sparring, insults exhanged in comradely fashion. The narrative brims with memorable portraits: Sully's mentally dim and odoriferous sidekick, Rub Squeers; his feisty 80-year-old landlady and former grade-school teacher, Miss Beryl; his ex-wife, a woman animated by moral outrage and self pity; his mistress's stiletto-tongued daughter and her waif-like, wall-eyed child; his one-legged alcoholic lawyer--even his thoroughly wicked grandson, the pint-sized reincarnation of Big Jim. In delivering these personalities with a Dickensian skill, Russo again proves himself a shrewd observer of human nature, whose universal failings he scrutinizes with a comic eye and a compassionate heart. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Don Sullivan's gone on stupid streaks before, but this one's an epic. Of course, when you're as ornery, stubborn, smart-ass, and broke as Sully, your luck can go south for extended vacations. The bum knee, painkillers, and booze probably don't help, either. Pulitzer Prize winner Russo (Empire Falls) is a master at placing great characters in a web of friends, enemies, and family. Sully, for instance, does odd jobs for Carl while lusting after Carl's wife, Toby, and carrying on a 20-year relationship with Ruth. Sully's relationship with his son is complicated by his feelings about his own brutal father. A good deal of the credit here goes to reader Ron McLarty's rendering of Sully's rasp and his invention in portraying the rest of the large cast. Highly recommended.-John Hiett, Iowa City P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Sully
Male
Age: 60s
Unemployed
Nearly broke; has a bad knee; estranged from his son; had an abusive father.

Peter
Male
Married
Sully's son; recently laid-off; marriage is crumbling.



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