This book describes life in the small town of Empire Falls, Maine through the lives of its inhabitants as they struggle to survive - both economically and psychologically - in a town that has seen better days. The book won the Pulitzer Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book of the year.
This book will leave you breathless. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, with weak and human characters and a portrait of small town Maine that is tragic, stifling and beautiful. Miles Roby is a damned son of a drinker, blasphemer, shiftless charmer and a saint when he drops out of college to manage the Empire Grill. Twenty years and one ex-wife later, he is still the poor, dutiful loser-everyman. His dream is to return to idyllic Martha's Vineyard and run a coffee-bookshop with his high-school aged daughter, Tick. His dream nearly comes true, but what love affair draws him back to the Vineyard remains a mystery. I loved the pacing of the novel, as it meanders like a river through the lives of the characters. Unforgettable! This book's a keeper.
This is probably one of the best books I've read. Ever. The character development is amazing. It had me talking out loud. I dislike authors who use a bunch of flowery descriptive sentences of fluff just to add pages to the book. This author can say so much in the most profound way. I found myself with sticky notes all over the book. Just amazing.
I had seen the movie miniseries Empire Falls, before I read the book. Both were wonderful. This is a heartwarming story about people who seem so real that they become part of your life while you are reading the book. I couldn't put it down, even though I knew how the story ended. The book, of course, has nuances that aren't part of the movie, and goes into much more depth of characterization. By the time you have finished reading this book, you will likely feel as if you have lived-if only for a short time-in Empire Falls, with it's small town atmosphere.
Great book! I wasn't in love with it at first, but as it kept going, I loved it more! It's the story of blue-collar America, lots of tragedy and people looking for a better way of life. Coming from New England I could relate! Definitely recommend it!
Intricate and believable account of life in small town New England where haves and have nots are inextricably intertwined. If you've seen or read Peyton Place, you will find notes of that tale in this well-crafted story. The author, incidentally, lives in Camden, ME where portions of Peyton Place was filmed.
I loved this book! Russo introduces a small town of characters in a small dying town so touching and honest, I believed I could almost tell what each one would do next. The story explores a 360 viewpoint of people, community, family, religion and commerce. The most touching to me being the emotional reasons people stay in spite of "throwing away" lucrative, better suited careers; the relationships between the wealthy and poor and what role the church plays in our lives. Normally I'm not an enthusiastic reader of uplifting small town stories, but this book is an exception. I fell in love with the small town of Empire Falls, it's people, their struggles and even though I felt I knew the characters well enough to figure out their next move - I didn't.They surprised me when the story twisted and turned and served itself up like a yummy home made dessert from your favorite diner. I highly recommend this book!
To me (and I think I am alone in this review) this boook was horribly painful, slow and boring. To me the characters were very flat and uninteresting, the book did not get interesting until about page 350, prior to that it was just horrible, I only continued reading because it was for a book chat or I would have abandoned it long before I got to the interesting 350th page!
This has been hailed as a new classic but I don't see why. I thought it was just okay - nothing riveting or anything that I would be thinking about for a long time afterwards.
The father in this story annoyed me....the characters were just very very dull.
This was a really great book! One of the best novels I've read in a long time. I was hooked from the first page and wanted to keep reading. It's a story about a small town in Maine, and the relationships between the people who live there. All the characters are very well developed, and the story line is captivating. I couldn't wait to see how it all turned out. There is something for everyone in this novel: humor, suspense, romance...
There's definitely a reason why this book won the Pulitzer prize!
This was the first book I read by Richard Russo, and now I want more.
How this book became a best seller I don't know. And the winner of the Pulitzer? Astounding! This has to be one of the most boring books I have read since the "Turn of the Screw" by Henry James in high school literature class. During the entire book the reader nearly becomes as bored as the characters in the town of Empire Falls, Maine. References made to things such as Tick's L.L. Bean backpack are fitting but overall the characters are dull and do not act on their feelings. The main chacter needs a good kick in the pants. He is a big chicken his entire life and even his wife leaves him for just this reason. Read this book if you like reading about people who do not act on their passions and live with regret.
I enjoyed reading this book and didn't find it slow like other reviewers but I did find the tone very heavy. I spent the whole book waiting for something significant to happen. When the school scene happened at the end (don't want to spoil it), it just felt like it was over the top and not totally grounded in the book's reality. I found this book to have a lot of surprising insights and I wish I would have highlighted them in my unpostable copy. I did find the ending satisfactory.
Empire Falls is a sometimes comical, sometimes heart-wrenching tale of a small town in Maine. Through flashbacks, we see several generations of the Whiting family which owns and controls most of the property and the citizens of the town. Facing rural decay and economic hardship with the closing of their manufacturing, the people of Empire Falls are slowly falling apart like the buildings they work and live in.
Miles, the main character, struggles with his appearance to his family and neighbors and his true self, presenting a fascinating dicotomy. Where others see him strong, he is actually weak, and where others find him weak, he actually finds great strength as he puzzles together the events of twenty plus years which have shaped him more than he ever realized.
Though sluggish in parts, the plot twists and excellent character development make this a great book that will stay with you long after yuo have finished it.
I wasn't sure if I'd like this book, it just didn't sound...exciting, but it's a Pulitzer winner, and the reviews were good. I'm not quite done with it, and have a feeling everything will come together in the end....it reminds me a lot of Mary McGarry Morris's "Songs in Ordinary Time" because of all the characters involved in the telling of the story, and how they are all related.
Excellent read. Miles is a very sympathetic protagonist, and the supporting characters (Max, Tick, David, Charlene) are all charming in their own way. Feels a little long in parts, and sort of ends in a hurry... but I can definitely see how it won the Pulitzer. It's the type of book that will (if it hasn't already) be made into a movie with great actors. And if you've read the book and seen the movie, the book will inevitably be better.
I actually have mixed feelings about this book. It most certainly kept my interest but there were times when his writing style frustrated me. All of the characters were flawed and some just evil, so perhaps, that was my difficulty in reading about them. The ending is quite explosive.
the author captures the oppressive rhythms of small town life very well, however, the seemingly 'ripped from the headlines' topics such as gay priests and school violence distance the reader from the characters in a was that does a disservice to the narrative arc of the book in general, as well as the authors own enjoyable, readable style of writing.
This is the book on which the HBO series was based. Complex characters paint life in a small town way in vivid colors. You will root for the good,strong characters to succeed and cheer for the controlling types to "get theirs."
F.Y.I. The front corners are a little worn. This is a great book. Russo has a wonderful way of describing people. The lives of the people in this small town remind me of the interweave in "Great Expectations". I had a little trouble getting past the first couple chapters...character building and a bit boring, but it pays off later. By the way, the HBO movie didn't do the story justice.
This was a very enjoyable read. Most books make the characters so perfect in appearance but Russo made the characters believable and not one was perfect. It's a story that goes into the past and back to the present to bring the whole story together. I definitely want to read more of his books.
Whether concerning the main character, who is the manager of the small town grill, his teenage daughter or the wealthy, controlling widow, every emotion expressed in this book feels so real. These are feelings you've felt and people you know. You just never knew them as well as you will when you finish this book. I couldn't put it down.
Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe its Janine, Miles soon-to-be ex-wife, whos taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps its the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in townand seems to believe that everything includes Miles himself. In Empire Falls Richard Russo delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace.
Amazon.com's Best of 2001
Like most of Richard Russo's earlier novels, Empire Falls is a tale of blue-collar life, which itself increasingly resembles a kind of high-wire act performed without the benefit of any middle-class safety nets. This time, though, the author has widened his scope, producing a comic and compelling ensemble piece. There is, to be sure, a protagonist: fortysomething Miles Roby, proprietor of the local greasy spoon and the recently divorced father of a teenage daughter. But Russo sets in motion a large cast of secondary characters, drawn from every social stratum of his depressed New England mill town. We meet his ex-wife Janine, his father Max (another of Russo's cantankerous layabouts), and a host of Empire Grill regulars. We're also introduced to Francine Whiting, a manipulative widow who owns half the town--and who takes a perverse pleasure in pointing out Miles's psychological defects.
Miles does indeed have a tendency to take it on the chin. (At one point he alludes to his own "natural propensity for shit-eating.") And his role as Mr. Nice Guy thrusts him into all sorts of clashes with his not-so-nice contemporaries, even as the reader patiently waits for him to blow his top. It would be impossible to summarize Russo's multiple plot lines here. Suffice it to say that he touches on love and marriage, lust and loss and small-town economics, with more than a soupçon of class resentment stirred into the broth. This is, in a sense, an epic of small and large frustrations: "After all, what was the whole wide world but a place for people to yearn for their heart's impossible desires, for those desires to become entrenched in defiance of logic, plausibility, and even the passage of time, as eternal as polished marble." Yet Russo's comedic timing keeps the novel from collapsing into an orgy of breast-beating, and his dialogue alone--snappy and natural and efficiently poignant--is sufficient cause to put Empire Falls on the map. --Bob Brandeis
Richard Russo's most ambitious novel is also his most gracefully told. Sweeping in its social scope but also achingly personal and beautifully detailed, Empire Falls is a subtle drama about the plight of the working class in a decaying Northeast mill town.
After Gary Fisketjon edited and published Russo's powerful first novel, Mohawk, in 1986, he eagerly awaited the day he would have the opportunity to work with Russo again. He got his wish 15 years later, and Fisketjon, vice president and editor-at-large of Knopf, had this to say about it: "Empire Falls reveals our worst and best instincts and transfigures both our most appalling nightmares and our simplest hopes, with all the vision, grace, and humanity of epic storytelling."
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Description on back: Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter, Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe its's Janie, Mile's soon to be ex wife, who's taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps it's the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town and seems to believe that everything includes Miles himself.
Miles Roby slings hamburgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years. What is keeping him there? Could be his bright daughter, soon-to-be ex-wife or Francine who owns everything in town. Francine believes she owns Miles as well.
Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter, Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe it's Janine, Mile's soon-to-be ex-wife, who's taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps it's the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town, and seems to believe that "everything" includes Miles himself. In Empire Falls, Richard Russo delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache and grace.