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Empire Falls (2001)

by Richard Russo

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8,147170792 (3.94)398
Milo Roby tries to hold his family together while working at the Empire Grill in the once-successful logging town of Empire Falls, Maine, with his partner, Mrs. Whiting, who is the heir to a faded logging and textile legacy.
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    The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry (browner56)
    browner56: Although separated by half a century and half the country, Thalia, Texas and Empire Falls, Maine could be the same dreary and decaying small town.
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    Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina (readerbabe1984)
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    Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns (readerbabe1984, readerbabe1984)
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» See also 398 mentions

English (163)  Korean (1)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (167)
Showing 1-5 of 163 (next | show all)
Erst nachdem ich mich für dieses Buch entschieden hatte, habe ich erfahren, dass Autor Richard Russo dafür 2002 den Pulitzer Preis bekommen hat. Zu Recht? Nun, ich will mir nicht anmaßen, das zu beurteilen. Fakt ist: ich habe dieses Buch geliebt! Ein echter Wälzer (ich glaube, das gedruckte Buch hat irgendwas um 740 Seiten, das Hörbuch umfasst über 22 Stunden!) und eine epische Geschichte, deren Mittelpunkt eine wahrscheinlich sehr typische amerikanische Kleinstadt an der Ostküste ist. ("Wahrscheinlich", weil ich niemals in einer amerikanischen Kleinstadt an der Ostküste gelebt habe.) Aber all diese Menschen in dieser Kleinstadt, die sich Empire Falls nennt, wirken sehr echt und real auf mich. Empire Falls ist auch der Originaltitel des Buches. Keine Ahnung, warum der deutsche Verlag da wieder einen eigenen - eher merkwürdigen - Titel kreiren musste. Denn in und um Empire Falls dreht sich alles in dieser Geschichte. Und um den Empire Grill, einen etwas in die Jahre gekommenen Diner in ebendieser Stadt. Geführt von Miles Roby. Miles Roby ist der typische Gutmensch im besten Wortsinn (wobei... gibt es da auch einen schlechten? ;-) ). In weiteren Rollen: Janine, seine Demnächst-Ex-Frau, deren Demnächst-Neuer-Ehegatte Walt Comeau, Besitzer des örtlichen Fitness-Studios und unverbesserliches Großmaul. Tick, Miles und Janines Tochter, die mit ihren eigenen Problemen in High-School und Freundeskreis zu kämpfen hat, Max Roby, Miles' ziemlich heruntergekommener Vater der im Betreuten Wohnen lebt, ständig pleite ist und jedem hemmungslos ins Gesicht sagt, was er von ihm denkt. David Roby, Miles' Bruder, ehemaliger Bad Boy, geläutert durch einen schweren Autounfall. Der alte quasi-demente Pfarrer Tom (aber ist er wirklich so dement wie man glaubt?) und dessen junger Nachfolger, Father Mark. Jimmy Minty, ehemaliger Schulfreund von Miles, dümmlich und korrupt. Und noch viele weitere Nebenfiguren, die alle ihr Schärflein beitragen. Viele Charactere, aber man verliert nie den Überblick. Es passieren eigentlich keine dramatischen Dinge, und doch fesselt die Geschichte. Sie entfaltet sich langsam und wir erfahren um die Geheimnisse der Bewohner, ihre Leichen, die die einen oder anderen im Keller haben. Und wir fühlen mit Miles Roby, der ganz langsam die Wahrheit herausfindet über das, was damals geschah. Mit seiner Mutter. Und was die reiche Unternehmerfamilie Whiting damit zu tun hat, deren Patriarchin Francine immer noch die Fäden zieht, in Empire Falls.

Wer sich durch ein sehr dickes Buch bzw. langes Hörbuch nicht abschrecken lässt, wer weniger auf Action aus ist, sondern mehr die Charakterstudien mag, wen lange Dialoge nicht stören und diesem Buch die Zeit geben möchte, die es braucht, dem sei dieses Werk sehr ans Herz gelegt. Komplex und doch leicht zu lesen. Ein interessanter Einblick in amerikanisches Kleinstadtleben. Und wenn es aus ist, ist man so vertraut mit all diesen Menschen, dass man sie gar nicht verlassen mag und noch eine ganze Weile später an sie denkt, und sich fragt, wie es ihnen wohl heute geht.

Großes Kompliment an Sprecher Stefan Kaminski! So viele Charaktere, und er hat ihnen allen eine eigene, unglaublich passende Stimme verliehen! Könnte man hier Sterne für Sprecher vergeben, er hätte volle 5 verdient! ( )
  Heidi64 | Jul 18, 2021 |
New England, small town life, relationships,
  KarlaC | Jun 16, 2021 |
Empire Fall by Richard Russo won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002. After reading it I can see why. The novel is centered on a small town that is declining because of the loss of manufacturing jobs. The story is about a man, Miles, who is a short-order cook at a local dinner. It follows his life with flashbacks to the early history of some of the characters.
It is well written with several quotable lines. The flow of the story with several characters with their backstories that meshes easily in the story and doesn’t interfere with the reading.
( )
  Pharmacdon | Dec 20, 2020 |
That was...insane. The ending gets props for sheer f**knuttery. I do think there are better depictions of working class in literature, though the entrepreneur gone bad is interesting. Russo's depiction of women was not super great, which is one of my major issues with the book. ( )
1 vote DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
Decent, well-crafted story of characters in a small town in Maine. Russo territory. He builds the characters and their place in the town, and lets us know that although it is an economically depressed area and hardly a place to show off, its citizens prefer to stay there.

The main character is Miles Roby, who has been running a restaurant that belongs to a mean rich old lady. He has run the restaurant for over twenty years, relying on her promise that he will inherit when she dies. But wait...he's getting older and she is having a good life, threatens to live until she's 100. Others have told him to get out while he still can but he can't quite see doing that. Having left college years ago to be with his dying mother, he has given up a lot of what she wanted for him. Perhaps what he wanted as well. He's surrounded by characters of all sorts, who somehow manage - to my mind, anyway - to avoid being caricatures. His father Max, who can still "climb like a monkey" at age "sempty", feels no guilt about his lack of support for his two sons or for all the years he has thrown away as an alcoholic. Miles' soon-to-be-ex-wife fights with her mother Bea about how she has "remade" herself, spending time at the gym (run by the "silver fox" who will soon be her second husband) and diverting herself from eating too much.

The Catholic church houses two priests, one overtaken by dementia, the other well-meaning, young. Miles' first love, a few years older, still works as a waitress in the cafe he runs, but somehow the two of them never get together.

All of this is somehow overshadowed by the presence of Francine Whiting, the rich widow Miles visits from time to time with reports on the restaurant. She shut down the only factory in town by selling it to a company that built it up only to raid it later. Miles lives with the knowledge that his mother went to work for Mrs. Whiting when she lost her job and struggled to help Miles get through school. He knows he owes Mrs. Whiting something but something is off there.

There is a sense of reality to the characters. They aren't just cute and cuddly, or mean and spiteful. They are too complex to be so simplified. I think this sets them apart from many other characters created by others.

I became fond of the characters but never fully fell in love with the book. When I first discovered Russo I was very much affected by his town and its people (another book but a similar situation), but as I read more of his work I am less affected. My loss, I know. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 163 (next | show all)
Russo's command of his story is unerring, but his manner is so unassuming that his mastery is easy to miss. He satisfies every expectation without lapsing into predictability, and the last section of the book explodes with surprises that also seem, in retrospect, like inevitabilities. As the pace quickens and the disparate threads of the narrative draw tighter, you find yourself torn between the desire to rush ahead and the impulse to slow down.

Empire Falls, situated at a fictitious and unlovely bend of the Knox River, is the kind of place tourists from Boston or New York speed through en route to the mini-Martha's Vineyards of the Maine coast, perhaps stopping for lunch at a place like the Empire Grill and eavesdropping on the taciturn, wisecracking regulars. By the end of this novel, you'll know the town's geography like a native, and its tattered landmarks -- the Empire Grill, the old Whiting shirt factory, the architectural folly C. B. Whiting built across the river -- will be as vivid and as charged with metaphor as Salem's house of seven gables or the mansions of East Egg. You will also have had the good fortune to tour this unremarkable geography in the company of an amiable, witty raconteur who knows all the gossip and the local history as well as some pretty good jokes. Only after you've bought him a beer, shaken his hand and said goodbye will it occur to you that he's also one of the best novelists around.
added by WiJiWiJi | editNew York Times, A.O. Scott (Jun 24, 2001)
 
Russo's command of his story is unerring, but his manner is so unassuming that his mastery is easy to miss. He satisfies every expectation without lapsing into predictability, and the last section of the book explodes with surprises that also seem, in retrospect, like inevitabilities. As the pace quickens and the disparate threads of the narrative draw tighter, you find yourself torn between the desire to rush ahead and the impulse to slow down.
added by Nickelini | editNew York Times, A.O. Scott (Jun 24, 2001)
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard Russoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ven, Sandra van deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Robert Benton
First words
Compared to the Whiting mansion in town, the house Charles Beaumont Whiting built a decade after his return to Maine was modest.
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Some sins trail their own penance.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Milo Roby tries to hold his family together while working at the Empire Grill in the once-successful logging town of Empire Falls, Maine, with his partner, Mrs. Whiting, who is the heir to a faded logging and textile legacy.

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