May 5, 2009

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

My new siter recommended Empire Falls by Richard Russo, and I was glad to take her up on it as I trust her taste in books. I knew that I was enjoying Empire Falls when I wanted to stop reading around page 250, because I didn't want the book to end.

Empire Falls takes place in the titular, struggling, small town in Maine. After looking up information about some of Russo's other books, it seems he always places his books in rundown small towns. The protagonist, Miles, manages the Empire Grill, owned by the widow who owns most of the town, the mother of the woman who has has crushed (obsessed?) on Miles since high school though she's been in and out of mental facilities the whole time. Other colorful characters include:
  • Mile's soon-to-be ex-wife who's divorcing him to marry an older man who has "Silver Fox" painted on the side of his van
  • Mile's daughter who's struggling in high school after her break-up because all her "friends" were really his
  • Mile's petty-thieving father who's looking for any way to get to Florida to drink his days away

There are so many more that I could mention, just as quirky and enjoyable. That's what I really like about this book. The characters are just that...characters. They're full of quirks, insecurities, and unrealistic ambitions...I think I'd fit right in.

Another thing about this book is that Russo took it where I never expected. It didn't really seem like it was what he was building towards, and felt like I was enjoying the bus ride, looking at the beautiful rural scenery, but the final destination ended up being a bustling city, albeit interesting in it's own wya. This is why I'm only giving it 4 stars: I just don't know how to evaluate it. I'll probably read it again to see if I was missing the boat all along. Regardless, this is a good read if only to enjoy the chracters and the writing style.


  1. I agree wholeheartedly! A very enjoyable book, but not sure where the ending went. It's the reason why I like this book, and certainly respect the writing, but it'll never make my "greatest books of all-time" list. Well worth a read, though!

  2. I read this a long time ago. I don't remember much about it, just that it was a decent read, though not something I'd necessarily read again.


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