Friday, February 09, 2007

A Maine Story

Empire Falls by Richard Russo: I finished this book a few days ago but I've been thinking about it. I liked it but came away from it vaguely disappointed in both the story and the author. Empire Falls is the story of Miles Roby who is stuck in a dying town running the Empire Falls Grill in Empire Falls, Maine. He believes he can't leave because of his family, especially his daughter, and because he is indebted to the woman who owns pretty much the entire town, but Russo reveals that the cause of Miles' inability to leave Empire Falls is his own inability to act. This inertia kept him in a loveless marriage for years; it's been the driving force behind much of his life -- it's as if he's waiting for some undefinable thing to happen. Empire Falls is the story of what it takes to finally move a man like Miles to action. It's that action that disappointed me. The ending of the novel also seemed too pat. And the mystery of Miles' mother's past was never much of a mystery to me -- I felt that Miles should have figured it out long ago. There is so much in this novel that is truly good: Russo's characters are real and interesting -- you probably know people a lot like them. His depiction of small town life, frustration, and class resentment in an economically depressed New England town is detailed, interesting and believable. I had seen Empire Falls as an HBO mini-series and enjoyed it but somehow you expect more from a book. Especially when the writer is as gifted as Richard Russo.

Friday Shuffle
  1. All Because of You: Blackmore's Night from Fires at Midnight
  2. If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day: Eric Clapton from Sessions for Robert J
  3. None of Us Are Free: Solomon Burke from Don't Give Up On Me
  4. Take, Take, Take: The White Stripes from Get Behind Me Satan
  5. Lost and Found: Eric Clapton from Back Home
  6. Let's Hear That String Part Again, Because I Don't Think They Heard It All The Way Out In Bushnell: Sufjan Stevens from Illinoise
  7. Red Rain: The White Stripes from Get Behind Me Satan
  8. That Was Easy: Franz Ferdinand from You Could Have It So Much Better
  9. Preacher's Daughter: Anthony Hamilton from Ain't Nobody Worryin'
  10. Strong Enough: Shemekia Copeland from The Soul Truth


sari said...

ooh! Two White Stripes for the price of one! Good day!

Katya said...

I always like it when I get more than one White Stripes -- I love them.

BabelBabe said...

I LOVE Richard Russo, but I think I may have mentioned previously that I consider EF his weakest book. The ending is just too...pat AND sensationalistic for him. Although the throwaway lines about the druggies putting their child in the laundry bag will forever haunt me.

Katya said...

Oh Lord! That just made me cringe! I'm reading Straight Man right now and I'm really loving it -- it's so funny.

Dixie said...

My hands down favorite Blackmore's Night song. Probably my favorite album of theirs as well.

I just saw the Empire Falls mini-series and was so disappointed, especially at the ending. And I couldn't bear Miles' mother. Hated that character.