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by Richard Russo
Harper Audio, May 2001
Unabridged audio pages
ISBN: 0694525596

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

EMPIRE FALLS by Richard Russo is considered one of the best novels of 2001 and it is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize. It is an incredible slice of Americana and an impressive portrayal of a small town going into decline after the factories begin to close down. The protagonist is Miles Roby, the town's everyman from which we see how life has been going on in the Maine town known as Empire Falls. He has worked at The Empire Grill all of his adult life and life will probably continue the same forever. The town matriarch has squashed all his hopes and dreams and he does not want his daughter Christina (or Tick as she prefers to be called) to turn into him. He is not sure about his future but he wants the best for his daughter and the only thing he can take to the bank is the love they both share. Nothing else matters.

If you thought that the book is good, wait till you hear the audio book. Ron McLarty narrates all the events that goes into town and does it with gusto. It is just like any struggling small town in America where character is colorful and everyone is chasing a pipe dream. The narrator is not embarrassed to sound like Michigan J. Frog, the WB mascot best known for his rendition of Hello, my baby, Hello, my honey, Hello, my ragtime gal, when he has to sing. There are interesting characters in the book and the narcissistic ham known as "Silver Fox". Como is one of them. There are many things going on at Empire Falls that will not be spoiled by this review. Character development is amongst the strongest out there in contemporary literature and there is little to compare it with. It is a highly recommended book for anyone who loves to read great fiction with lots of drama. As an added incentive, the last cassette in this audio book series has an interview with Richard Russo, author of this masterpiece, giving his take into the genesis of the story. After having listened to him, it will touch, move and inspire you. Russo is a class act in himself that deserves a higher recognition that can be given here. He is a true original.

Reviewed by Angel L. Soto, March 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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