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Niagara Falls All Over Again by Elizabeth.…

Niagara Falls All Over Again (original 2001; edition 2001)

by Elizabeth. McCracken (Author)

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3881144,337 (3.6)22
By turns graceful and knowing, funny and moving,Niagara Falls All Over Againis the latest masterwork by National Book Award finalist and author ofThe Giant’s House, Elizabeth McCracken. Spanning the waning years of vaudeville and the golden age of Hollywood,Niagara Falls All Over Againchronicles a flawed, passionate friendship over thirty years, weaving a powerful story of family and love, grief and loss. In it, McCracken introduces her most singular and affecting hero: Mose Sharp — son, brother, husband, father, friend ... and straight man to the fat guy in baggy pants who utterly transforms his life. To the paying public, Mose Sharp was the arch, colorless half of the comedy team Carter and Sharp. To his partner, he was charmed and charming, a confirmed bachelor who never failed at love and romance. To his father and sisters, Mose was a prodigal son. And in his own heart and soul, he would always be a boy who once had a chance to save a girl’s life — a girl who would be his first, and greatest, loss. Born into a Jewish family in small-town Iowa, the only boy among six sisters, Mose Sharp couldn’t leave home soon enough. By sixteen Mose had already joined the vaudeville circuit. But he knew one thing from the start: “I needed a partner,” he recalls. “I had always needed a partner.” Then, an ebullient, self-destructive comedian named Rocky Carter came crashing into his life — and a thirty-year partnership was born. But as the comedy team of Carter and Sharp thrived from the vaudeville backwaters to Broadway to Hollywood, a funny thing happened amid the laughter: It was Mose who had all the best lines offstage. Rocky would go through money, women, and wives in his restless search for love; Mose would settle down to a family life marked by fragile joy and wrenching tragedy. And soon, cracks were appearing in their complex relationship ... until one unforgivable act leads to another and a partnership begins to unravel. In a novel as daring as it is compassionate, Elizabeth McCracken introduces an indelibly drawn cast of characters — from Mose’s Iowa family to the vagabond friends, lovers, and competitors who share his dizzying journey — as she deftly explores the fragile structures that underlie love affairs and friendships, partnerships and families. An elegiac and uniquely American novel,Niagara Falls All Over Againis storytelling at its finest — and powerful proof that Elizabeth McCracken is one of the most dynamic and wholly original voices of her generation.… (more)
Title:Niagara Falls All Over Again
Authors:Elizabeth. McCracken (Author)
Info:NY: THE DIAL PRESS. 2001 (2001), Edition: First Edition, 308 pages
Collections:Your library

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Niagara Falls All Over Again by Elizabeth McCracken (2001)


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» See also 22 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Life story of a vaudeville straight man and his partner, lovers, wife, and children. ( )
  christinedux | Jun 7, 2017 |
Mose Sharensky, better known as Mike Sharp, is an ex-vaudeville straight man looking back on his life and career from extreme old age. Despite his father’s expectations that Mose would follow him into the family dry goods business, Mose and his sister Hattie have plans to escape Des Moines to the vaudeville stage as a double act. But Hattie’s unexpected death at eighteen puts an end to their dreams. Mose decides to continue on his own and barely ekes out a living until fortune brings him into the sights of Rocky Carter, a fat funny man in need of new straight man for his act. He takes Mose (by this time, Mike) under his wing and together they make a winning combination. First vaudeville, then Broadway, then Hollywood and some way off in the future, even the youthful medium of television. For a time it all works out and then it goes a bit sideways and then it fizzles entirely. Meanwhile, Rocky cycles through a seemingly endless series of ‘the current Mrs Carter’ and Mike settles down to married bliss with his dancer wife, Jessica, and their growing family.

Although it isn’t obvious from the outset, this is a story of a long life — more than 70 years. But in a way it is surprisingly uneventful. Tragedy, as you might expect in any story about comedians, abounds. But it doesn’t always move us as readers. I think it is because we never get fully on board with Mike, who is also our narrator. Or maybe it’s because Mike is quintessentially a straight man. It is rather Hattie who is funny and tragic, or Mimi who is funny and tragic, or Rocky, or Penny, or any one of the other characters who people these pages. Enough so that when Mike experiences truly tragic circumstances such as the death of his young daughter, we find ourselves looking to the others around him to reveal the meaning of this event rather than him.

McCracken’s writing is steady and workmanly. She keeps the story ticking along but never seems to generate either the raucous laughter that a tale of comedians might offer or the sadness that all too often underlies comedy. In the end we are left with a curiosity, a tale about comic men told in a voice that is not entirely believable. Sadly, not recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Jun 30, 2015 |
As a young boy growing up near Des Moines, Iowa, Mose Sharp dreams of being in vaudeville. That dream is stoked by Mose's sister, Hattie. And although it does not happen the way that he planned, Mose becomes the straight man in the comedy duo Carter and Sharp and goes on to fame on both the big and small screens. Like any good straight man, it is impossible to know Mose alone, and in this book, we come to know Mose through his relationships - with his partner Rocky Carter, his sisters, his dad, and his wife. At times, I wished that there was more momentum driving this story forward, but all in all, I enjoyed this study of a life and the times in which it was lived. ( )
  porch_reader | Oct 14, 2013 |
Elizabeth McCaracken is a very lyrical author. Her writing is almost like poetry at times. This was an engaging book with very likable and interesting characters. My only complaint is with the end of the book, which seemed lacking. ( )
  castironskillet | Aug 13, 2013 |
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. This is the story of a mid-twentieth century comedy act, told by the straight man. They start out in vaudeville and we learn about the arc of their success.

It's a very tenderly told story of companionship and love, dependence and emancipation. It's marvelous, I highly recommend this book.

This would make a great reading trilogy combined with Carter Beats the Devil and [b:Water for Elephants|43641|Water for Elephants|Sara Gruen|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1170161179s/43641.jpg|3441236] - all are about people who work in the "golden age" of entertainment, and all have warm, rich stories and deep, thoughtful characters. ( )
  periwinklejane | Mar 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
In the end, the men’s success on the big screen is no match for the offbeat appeal of vaudeville as told in the first half of the book.
How frustrating, then, that everything about ''Niagara Falls,'' from its title on down, feels forced and self-conscious, like a pair of baggy pants that are worn but never inhabited. Get, with regret, the hook.
Given Elizabeth McCracken's abilities, you can't help wishing that in a future book she would fully deploy not only her powers of invention but also her talent for observation -- to grace her larger-than-life characters with inner and outer lives that are complexly detailed and difficult. Even so, this novel provides plenty for which to be thankful -- a sense of play, a nervy willingness to imagine a wide range of characters and situations, estimable powers of empathy and the enjoyment of watching a talented writer beginning to come into her own.
In the vernacular of vaudeville, a successful act was called a Riot, a Panic, a Knockout and -- the final accolade -- a Wow, in an ascending order that suggests a brawl ending with a victor, his foot planted on the other fellow's chest.

Elizabeth McCracken's new novel, Niagara Falls All Over Again, is a Wow.
added by Shortride | editThe Washington Post, Carrie Brown (Aug 12, 2001)
Only the novel's conclusion feels slightly unsatisfying, in that some questions never even get asked (let alone answered). Overall, though, tagging along with straight man Mose Sharp, from the time of vaudeville through the age of television, is flat-out fun -- a heartbreaking and exhilarating ride.
added by Shortride | editBookPage, Jenn McKee (Aug 1, 2001)
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