Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Review: Empire Falls by Richard Russo

 The Book: (From Goodreads) 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.

 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.

What I thought: I've had this book on my TBR list for awhile for a couple of reasons. Primarily because it won the Pulitzer prize. I so badly wanted to like this book but it was just not a book that read easily for me. In fact I read three other books in the midst of starting this one because I just couldn't get into it. The entire story centers on the town of Empire Falls and more particularly around Miles Roby who runs a restaurant in the town.

Russo gives a somewhat detailed exploration of each of the important people in Miles Roby's life and this is a book primarily focused on the characters. In fact there were so many characters that it took me a 100 pages or so to get them all straight in my mind. The character development was amazing as was the attention to detail. Russo is an excellent writer many of the characters came alive in my mind. However, that wasn't quite enough for me. I wanted more of a plot, I wanted a little bit more forward motion, I just kept waiting for something more throughout the entire thing.

My Rating: B
I struggled trying to rate this book because it's not a bad book. The writing is excellent as is the character development. However, this book was just unsatisfying for me. When I finished I was just neutral and indifferent to the whole thing.

1 comment:

  1. You won my blog contest for a signed copy of The Giver!