Will You Read? Elsewhere
Elsewhere by Richard Russo; Knopf, October 30, 2012; 256 pages
Synopsis: Celebrated novelist Richard Russo writes candidly about his life, his hometown of Gloversville, New York, and the possibly overbearing influence of his mother. Born in a dying mill town in upstate New York, Russo grew up acutely aware of the odds stacked against him. Yet his mother inspired him to dream big. He left for college in Arizona as a teenager, and in the tradition of helicopter parents over time, his mom came with him. His rise to the top of the literary world, along with his relationship with his mom form the novel’s core.
Reviews: Russo’s memoir is heavy on logistical detail—people moving around, houses packed and unpacked—and by turns rueful and funny, emotionally opaque and narratively rich. -Publishers Weekly
Also by this author: Empire Falls (Pulitzer Prize, 2002), That Old Cape Magic, Bridge of Sighs.
Related Books: This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff, You Can’t Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe, The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen
My gut reaction: Richard Russo’s upstate New York is such a detailed, rich place, it is hard not to want to return again and again. I worry that this memoir will simply be a more factual rehashing of the places and people he has already described in countless fictional works. Nevertheless, Russo’s prose, humor, and insight will make this a worthwhile read, but perhaps not the first book I would recommend to someone new to his work.
What do you think? Does Russo still have his mojo, or has he reached his pinnacle and is this latest book a downfall?