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Mohawk by Richard Russo

Mohawk (1986)

by Richard Russo

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Straight Man is one of my favorite novels of all time, so when I saw that Russo had also written a novel set in a small town in central New York, I had to buy it immediately. I've finally maneuvered free-time for reading into my schedule---what a pleasure it was! Seeing that I live right next to "Mohawk, New York," the town in which the novel is set, I felt even more connected to the characters as names of all of the surrounding areas of my life kept coming up (Even though there isn't a Mohawk County).

Russo has a way of describing deep and sensitive characters and plot events with levity. It's pure enjoyment to read, and at the same time gives valuable vicarious life experience. I just want to say I love Mather Grouse and how could anyone even tolerate the obnoxious sisters Milly and Mrs. Grouse--but you love them anyway! I saw all of the insufferable flaws of half a dozen people in my life in these characters, but their Mohawkian fictional equivalents are nonetheless lovable. So I feel that I can face, say, my ex (another Dallas Younger), with a bit more tolerance at this point.

Mather Grouse hits home when he tells his daughter that "People sometimes get in the habit of being loyal to a mistake. They can devote their whole lives to it." Adelle has tried to tell me as much, but Mather seemed to be more credible, I suppose. I have this quote on an index card and I tossed it carelessly into my disorganized desk so that I can find it when fate allows.

I'm reminded why I love reading so much, and I'm inspired to read "She's Come Undone" again--I'm missing a female character that I can really relate to. I've been reading too many stories with male protagonists lately.

Enjoy! I HIGHLY recommend this book, especially to locals! ( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 14, 2015 |
Disclaimer: I am a Richard Russo fan, so I was predisposed to like this book. . . and I did. Those familiar with Russo's work will recognize in this, his first novel, the themes he returns to again and again in his writing: the once prosperous small town now down on its luck, the destruction of the people and/or environment by the very industry which brought prosperity to that town, the quirky and often damaged people who live there. The prose is engaging and affecting, even if the story and plot are not quite as polished as in Russo's later work. If you are a fan of Russo's fiction and haven't read this, you'll enjoy it. ( )
  LaineyMac | May 10, 2015 |
Mohawk. Richard Russo. 1986. This book has been in my “to be read” bookcase for years and years, and I a mad at myself for waiting so long to read it. Russo is a marvelous writer; he reminds me of Wallace Stegner. His characters come alive, and he makes you feel their misery and what little happiness they have as most of them lead lives of “quiet desperation.” This is the story of sad people in a dying town, written with grace and style. ( )
  judithrs | Feb 26, 2014 |
I read Richard Russo's first book , Mohawk, after having read several of his newer titles. I admire Russo's story telling style and his great characterization . Empire Falls was the first book I read and I was hooked. I went back to read Mohawk mainly because I grew up in the area Russo writes about and I know the small village life. Mohawk is definitely the beginning of where Russo goes as an author and storyteller. It is not my favorite but in context with his later books, I am glad I read it. ( )
  librarian1204 | Oct 10, 2013 |
I fell in love with the works of Richard Russo when I read his Pulitzer Prize winning "Empire Falls". Since then, I've read most of what he has written; and to varying degrees loved it all. My favorites, in addition to Empire, are "Nobody's Fool", and a book I recently read called "Mohawk". Mohawk is the first book Russo ever wrote. If you know Russo at all, you know that his books read like a bluesy Bruce Springsteen song. They tend to be about a small blue collar town where the town's main employer has been polluting the air and water for years, and is edging ever closer to bankruptcy. And as the employer goes (in Mohawk the employer is a tannery) so goes the town. Russo examines the lives of the people who stay in such a dying town. Why do they stay? What is the story of their Glory Days, and how do they cope with the loss of those days? And is the tannery a villain for sucking the townspeople dry, and leaving them with nothing but a poison river, or a hero for giving many years of a break-even economy to an otherwise destitute townspeople? Mohawk was a very enjoyable and thought provoking book. ( )
  richard.thurman | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679753826, Paperback)

The town of Mohawk may be provincial but it's far from sleepy. Its inhabitants seem perpetually awake, and not only on Saturday at two in the morning, "when the bars are closing and people are forced to consider the prospect of returning home with so many of the night's dreams unfulfilled." Richard Russo focuses on several characters who are leading lives of extreme--and extremely funny--longing. Dallas Younger, for instance, hit his peak playing high-school football, and it's been downhill from there. He has no idea what women, particularly his ex-wife, are thinking, which makes him really glad there are none in on the local poker game. And he's still at a loss to figure out why he has no relationship with his son (probably something to do with the fact that he never sees him). Even the calendar at the local grill is for 1966, since the owner figures "the months are the same" and being a few days out of whack doesn't matter. This same man has a private betting system. Choosing among the top jockeys isn't that hard--he tries to assess their current levels of pride, concentration, and desire. Richard Russo shows us that these same qualities exist in his hard-luck characters.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:47 -0400)

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Mohawk, New York, is one of those small towns that lie almost entirely on the wrong side of the tracks. Its citizens, too, have fallen on hard times. Dallas Younger, a star athlete in high school, now drifts from tavern to poker game, losing money, and, inevitablym another set of false teeth. His ex-wife, Anne, is stuck in a losing battle with her mother over care of her sick father. And their son, Randall, is deliberately neglecting his school work because in a place like Mohawk is doesn't pay to be too smart.… (more)

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