Empire Falls Analysis

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With most of his novels being set in small northeastern industrial American towns, it’s no wonder Richard Russo has been named “the patron saint of small town fiction” (“Richard Russo,”CAO). It was while he was a student at the University of Arizona, a long way from his hometown of Gloversville, New York, that his career as a novelist began, and a draft of his premature writings became his first novel, Mohawk (Welsch). Eventually, in 2002, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his fifth novel, Empire Falls (“Empire Falls” 135). Recently his career has taken a turn with his publication of Elsewhere, a memoir on his mother, and a newfound passion for screenwriting, including one an HBO adaptation of his novel, Empire Falls (“Richard Russo,”CAO).…show more content…
Due to it’s characters all having a past sadness or secret, the highly acclaimed book did receive the critique that it “has a tendency to swerve toward contrived melodrama” (“Russo, Richard 1949—” 3094). His next work, published two years later, The Risk Pool, is also set in the town of Mohawk, where Russo channels his own fatherly troubles into his characters Ned, the son, and Sam, the father (Welsch). As his own father was ill during the writing period of this book, Russo has stated that this is his most personal work of fiction (“Empire Falls” 136). Similar to his first two novels, Russo’s third novel, Nobody’s Fool, issued in 1993, and the movie version released in 1994, is set in the small town of North Bath, New York, and contains the underlying gloom found in his previous novels, but the main character, Sully, lightens up the mood with his quick-witted responses and jokes (“Richard Russo,”CAO). After retiring from teaching to writing full-time, Russo published his fourth novel in 1997, Straight Man, which deals with the life of a college professor, Hank Devereaux Jr., who is also head of the English department (“Russo, Richard 1949—” 3095). In this comical piece, Russo writes of a middle aged man who is largely bored with his work life, and who has his own paternal, marriage, and health struggles, while still being “willing to do almost anything to…show more content…
As found in a past interview, Russo stated that if he had decided he wanted to do creative writing from the very start of his career, instead of reading 19th-century writers such as Dickens and Twain, he would have been reading the more “hot writers” including John Barth and William Gass, which would have resulted in a very different writing style and thematic concerns contained within his novels (Frumkes). These dated influence’s works, which include a writing style of allowing the reader to have a “wide-angle lens” view of the book, and to see everything from the “outside looking in,” is said by Russo to be his strongest (Smith). Another style displayed in his works is his lack of plot, which he has acknowledged, but states he is “more interested in getting characters that interest [him] enough to [write them into his

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