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EPUB ⚷ Empire Falls Ú Welcome to Empire Falls, a blue collar town full of abandoned mills whose citizens surround themselves with the comforts and feuds provided by lifelong friends and neighbors and who find humor and hope in the most unlikely places, in this Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Richard RussoMiles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill foryears, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self respect What keeps him there It could be his bright, sensitive daughter Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school Or maybe it s Janine, Miles soon to be ex wife, who s taken up with a noxiously vain health club proprietor Or perhaps it s the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town and seems to believe that everything includes Miles himself In Empire Falls Richard Russo delves deep into the blue collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace Now and then, you find a book which manages to enthrall you so deeply that you simply know you will return to it over and over again, perhaps to embrace the writing style, perhaps to meet these characters again or perhaps to simply let yourself be immersed by the wonderful atmosphere of that specific book Empire Falls is such a book I loved every single page of this book, and yet I know there are readers who would rip this book apart, saying things like nothing ever happens or where is the Now and then, you find a book which manages to enthrall you so deeply that you simply know you will return to it over and over again, perhaps to embrace the writing style, perhaps to meet these characters again or perhaps to simply let yourself be immersed by the wonderful atmosphere of that specific book Empire Falls is such a book I loved every single page of this book, and yet I know there are readers who would rip this book apart, saying things like nothing ever happens or where is the plot If you actually plan to read this novel, you have to be prepared to find a book which focuses on character developmentthan anything else Richard Russo, the author of this Pulitzer Prize winning novel, concentrates mainly on the huge cast of characters he introduces and develops throughout these 500 pages, as well as building an atmosphere which will make you feel as if you have relocated to Empire Falls, Maine, this curious little town with its huge story.It is difficult to explain the events in Empire Falls , considering the huge amount of characters involved in this novel We accompany our main character, Miles Roby, on an insightful journey through his life, but Russo also constantly delves into the minds of different characters by changing the point of view to another character All the different story lines find their connection in Miles Roby, a middle aged, divorced father who runs the Empire Grill, a greasy spoon diner We meet his ex wife Janine Roby, who has developed a rather selfish attitude since her divorce and whose main concerns are now her weight and her social status Their smart daughter Tick is confronted with her own problems in school, where she meets John Voss, her awkward, introverted classmate We meet Miles younger brother David, a chief cook and former alcoholic as well as their difficult father Max and their late mother Grace through a number of flashbacks we meet Janine s arrogant fianc Walt Comeau, police officer Jimmy Minty who holds a grudge against Miles, his son Zack who has once been involved with Tick and of course Francine Whiting, the widow of the wealthiest man of Empire Falls who now owns half of the town and particularly Miles.Richard Russo introduces us to a huge amount of other characters as well, making it appear that it is rather easy to lose track of who is actually who and which character has which characteristics However, Russo always manages to introduce his characters in a very memorable way, with every single minor character contributing an important part to the story line No person is introduced without a reason, and they are all developed in a very balanced way Goodhearted Miles Roby also has his dark sides, but antagonists such as Zack and Jimmy Minty or Walt Comeau never appear as stereotypical villains Russo spends a lot of time on creating realistic characters, and he doesthan just succeed He creates characters you are unlikely to ever forget After all, what was the whole wide world but a place for people to yearn for their heart s impossible desires, for those desires to become entrenched in defiance of logic, plausibility, and even the passage of time, as eternal as polished marble For me personally, Russo s prose was very inspirational, but he found the perfect balance between humor and seriousness At times, you will not be able to stop laughing thanks to Russo s subtle humor At other times, you will start wondering about subjects you never thought even existed Even now, after having finished this book, I can open it on a random page and find a new aspect to think about Of course it is possible to detect a plot in this novel, but it s not the most important thing in its essence, Empire Falls can be called a social study, exploring a small town to its very core and delving deep into everyone s secrets without causing their stories to feel far fetched or excessively melodramatic All of these characters might well be your neighbors, that s how realistically Russo portrays them He ultimately builds up to a thrilling climax, which leads everything to a satisfying ending which stays close to the core of the characters and the town.Many relationships in this novel are defined by either resentment or kindness, but all of these relationships find themselves tested in the course of the book Each character has to explore themes such as responsibility or, most importantly, humanity, which is essentially what the book is about in my opinion What makes us human What defines humanity Can we call ourselves human in spite of all our sins The blurb of the edition I own describes the novel with characters who will disarm you, a plot with as many twists and falls as the Knox River the river which flows through Empire Falls itself, and an ending that will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck I couldn t agreeEven when I put this book aside, I could never resist returning to it in my thoughts And let s take a moment to appreciate that beautiful cover at least in the edition which I have linked my review to.I should mention that perhaps I should hate this book rather than loving it after all, I have not been able to motivate myself to read anything for about five weeks after finishing Empire Falls I simply couldn t imagine to find something similarly good again But this was only my personal experience, so if you intend to read this novel, don t get your expectations too high To me, 500 pages of Richard Russo felt like 1,500 pages of J.K Rowling Russo s prose is so simple and yet beautiful that I was constantly tempted to reread chapters immediately In addition, Russo tends to create complex sentences and releases a lot of information embedded into his sentences upon his readers, which is why you will have to read every chapter very carefully in order to understand the characters conflicts and the background stories And there comes a time in your life when you realize that if you don t take the opportunity to be happy, you may never get another chance again I can honestly say that Russo s novel changed my life to some extent His prose provides constant food for thoughts, he makes you overthink your own values and standards by pushing you towards questions like, What would I do if I was in the same situation as this character Many other reviewers have already praised this novel, so I don t think I was able to add anything else to what they already wrote, but I certainly hope that Richard Russo will continue to receive attention for the masterful novel he created Though it should be mentioned that if you usually only read fantasy, sci fi, thrillers or romance novels, you may not enjoy this very much The trailer for the TV series I linked in the next paragraph may give you a feeling for the novel s atmosphere and help you decide whether you d appreciate reading this or not.For readers of literary adult realistic fiction or however this genre may be called , I d call this novel a safe bet You won t be disappointed If you are still interested, I am going to provide you with some further information on the TV mini series which was closely adapted from Russo s novel in 2005.This trailer catches the atmosphere of the series pretty well, just like the series was capable of portraying a very similar atmosphere to the one depicted in the novel The series shines with a stellar cast Ed Harris, Helen Hunt, Paul Newman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Joanne Woodward, Kate Burton, William Fichtner and Aidan Quinn Over the course of 200 minutes, the series depicts every major event from the novel in a very similar fashion, and finds the correct balance between its own choices and the book s defaults There is not much wrong with this series, except perhaps that just like the novel itself I did not want it to end once I started watching it.You are immediately swept into the atmosphere of the story, and fabulous actors allow to instantly make all of these characters appear interesting Paul Newman puts all his acting weight into his performance as Max Roby, a role very different from his iconic roles such as Butch Cassidy, Henry Gondorff or Cold Hand Luke Ed Harris shines as Miles Roby, a role in which he is finally allowed to playthan just the antagonist though Harris never fails to do so in a convincing manner or the minor character his roles are often treated as in many movies Robin Wright gracefully makes the role of Grace her own, though she still only presents us with small nuances of what she is actually capable of just a random note you should watch House of Cards if you haven t yet, even if only for Robin Wright s and Kevin Spacey s stellar performances Those three actors stood out in the most memorable way for me personally, but in the end, there was not a single performance which disappointed me.Ultimately, I d highly recommend watching this series if you have read the book The series works well on its own, but it works even better after having read the book before I suspect that most people reading this review do NOT live in the hometown where they were born You didn t marry your high school sweetheart and or, going on forty, you re not still secretly in love with an old sweetheart who still lives in town You don t live in a couple of sleazy rooms above the diner you run Your ex alcoholic brother and your borderline anorexic teen aged daughter don t flip burgers and wait tables for you Your ex wife s new husband doesn t hang out drinking coffee at the I suspect that most people reading this review do NOT live in the hometown where they were born You didn t marry your high school sweetheart and or, going on forty, you re not still secretly in love with an old sweetheart who still lives in town You don t live in a couple of sleazy rooms above the diner you run Your ex alcoholic brother and your borderline anorexic teen aged daughter don t flip burgers and wait tables for you Your ex wife s new husband doesn t hang out drinking coffee at the lunch counter trying to be your friend No hard feelings Your Dad doesn t come in trying to get free food and steal beer money from the register The high school bully doesn t still bully you and now he s a cop Your ex mother in law doesn t run the bar across the street from your diner But you re still friends with her because you re the harmless type of guy that mothers want their daughters to marry You don t frequently go out of your way to park outside the house you grew up in and despair that it is now deteriorated and occupied by drug dealers To me, a major theme of this book is what it would be like to have stayed in your hometown As a geographer I enjoy reading and thinking about this theme There are Movers and Stayers and even research studies about how these folks are different we all know both types A recent Pew Research study found that movers tend to be college educated they move for jobs and once they move out of their hometown they are likely to move again in search of better employment and greener pastures The stayers, about 37% of American adults who still live in or around the town they were born in, stay for family ties The Mid West has the highest proportion of stayers the West the least East and South are in the middle The story you have snippets of the story in the things I wrote above about movers and stayers There is a real story here, almost a plot that becomes evident as the story moves along It s tightly knit and revealed bit by bit as we learn the significance of events that the boy experienced early in life without understanding then what was happening And it takes him 40 years to figure some of it out We re in a dying former mill town in Maine, a few hours from Boston A significant component of the story actually involves mover and stayer philosophy when the main character s mother was dying from cancer, she implored him,or less Get out of this town get out don t stay that s why I sent you away to college Even though his mother dies, he chooses to drop out of college and stay An aging widow runs the town Her family owns the now abandoned shirt factory that almost everyone used to work in she even owns the diner that the main character runs and she owns the bar that his mother in law runs Not realizing the full story of how events fit together, even as an adult, the main character does not understand that the widow runs people as well as the town and that she is wreaking vengeance on him in subtle but vicious ways.Along the way we get glimpses of modern American life in such a has been place The re occurring Trump like rumors born of desperation that the factory will re open as if Americans are going to start making shirts again for 2 an hour the church closings due to population loss the probably gay priest the desperation of the left behind elderly like his father who have to borrow and scam people for beer money a horrendous school violence incident Here are a few passages I liked and some reveal a littleof the story The short man disliked calling attention to that fact, so The furniture was of the sort used in model homes and trailers to give the impression of spaciousness this optical illusion worked well enough except on those occasions when large people came to visit, and then the effect was that of a lavish dollhouse Kids today stuffed the entire contents of their lockers into their seam stitched backpacks and brought it all home, probably, Miles figured, so they wouldn t have to think through what they d need and what they could do without, thereby avoiding the kinds of decisions that might trail consequences To her way of thinking, any man with nosex drive than Miles Roby the main character possessed might better have just gone ahead and embraced celibacy and been done with it, instead of disappointing poor girls like herself the teen aged daughter thinks at least she didn t have to go to church any now that her mother had replaced Catholicism with aerobics The donut shop in Empire Falls had always been one of Max Roby s favorite places because of its smoking policy, which was, Go ahead See if we care The old Alzheimer prone priest thinks of the main character s father he d always held Max Roby in the lowest possible esteem as a blasphemer, a shiftless charmer, a drinker and a general ne er do well What he seemed less clear about was why he d objected to these qualities The younger priest says of the older priest s strange utterances I understand why it s coming out but how do you suppose it got in there Listening to people talk on the telephone, for Father Tom s way of thinking, was the next best thing to hearing confessions When the main character is a young boy, his father is arrested as a public nuisance Having this short phrase to describe him was better than suspecting that his father was so different and unnatural that nobody had yet invented a way to describe him It pleased him to imagine God as someone like his mother, someone beleaguered by too many responsibilities, too dog tired to monitor an energetic boy every minute of the day, but who, out of love and fear for his safety, checked in on him whenever she could Surely God must have other projects besides Man, just as parents had responsibilities other than raising their children I liked the well knit, slowly revealed plot and I loved the humor and the irony, shown in some of the quotes above A great read and I m adding it to my favorites first one in a couple of months photo of Gem Diner, syracusenews.commill in Maine from abnf.co Lives are rivers We imagine we can direct their paths, though in the end there s but one destination, and we end up being true to ourselves only because we have no choice People speak of selfishness, but that s another folly, because of course there s no such thing I ve been pondering this quote for some time now after having finished Richard Russo s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Empire Falls Is it true that we have no choice in where our lives take us Do we only perceive that we have choiLives are rivers We imagine we can direct their paths, though in the end there s but one destination, and we end up being true to ourselves only because we have no choice People speak of selfishness, but that s another folly, because of course there s no such thing I ve been pondering this quote for some time now after having finished Richard Russo s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Empire Falls Is it true that we have no choice in where our lives take us Do we only perceive that we have choices and opportunities, whereas in fact our paths are predetermined Or does believing such a precept just mean that one is placing blame on circumstances that can in fact be overcome The message may be found within the pages of this extraordinary novel Empire Falls centers on the lives of those characters that live in this small town of Maine During its glory days, the town flourished due to the logging and textile industries run by the all powerful Whiting family Nowadays, the town is run down, yet many of its inhabitants remain hopeful that some day it will once again prosper This is due largely to the fact that the mill and the factory remain intact, a vision of what used to be and what could be if someone would only grasp the opportunity What does remain and stands as the focal point of the actual happenings in the town is the Empire GrillThe Empire Grill was long and low slung, with windows that ran its entire length, and since the building next door, a Rexall drugstore, had been condemned and razed, it was now possible to sit at the lunch counter and see straight down Empire Avenue all the way to the old textile mill and its adjacent shirt factory Both had been abandoned now for the better part of two decades, though their dark, looming shapes at the foot of the avenue s gentle incline continued to draw the eye It is here that we meet Miles Roby, manager of the Empire Grill What fascinates me about small towns is the fact that many of its people really never get away Despite economic instability, there is a core of folks that seem to stick it out perhaps they don t perceive a means of escape or maybe they see the town for what it once was and that memory eclipses any sense of hardship Miles Roby, with a major push and the support of his mother, did get out only to return once again due to circumstances that seemed out of his control Now under the thumb of Francine Whiting, reigning heiress to the Whiting fortune, Miles seems to have reached a dead end, much like the town itself He lives in a shabby apartment over the grill, is soon to be divorced, and has responsibilities to his teenage daughter, Tick, his deadbeat father, Max, and his recovering alcoholic brother, David Through him we also meet a wealth of other complex individuals some good, some not so good, and some downright cringe worthy And yet, under the masterful pen of Russo, each character is written in a way that completely absorbs your full attention However mundane each person appears on the surface, he or she still manages to throb with life on each page The interactions and dialogue in this book are superb believable, gripping, sometimes sad, and often humorous The novel is at heart a character driven story There exists a plot that is very slowly and deliberately revealed a couple of turns that I did not fully anticipate Don t expect quick action you will be disappointed And yet, I found myself nearly holding my breath towards the end of the book I was that entangled with the lives of the characters I was hopeful for the future of the town and its people There was something in nearly each person that I could relate to and understand What I came to realize in the end is that we should each grab hold of our dreams, take control of our circumstances, and in fact change the direction of that river We may not end up exactly where we imagined, but neither do we need to flounder and succumb to its currents I think it would be safe to say that even though this is my first I know right, where have I been Richard Russo novel, he will be on my list of favorite authors This book has those elements I adore in my books memorable and extremely well drawn characters, brilliant writing, and surprising plot twists 5 starsAfter all, what was the whole wide world but a place for people to yearn for their hearts impossible desires, for those desires to become entrenched in defiance of logic, plausibility, and even the passage of time, as eternal as polished marble coup de foudre A sudden unexpected event, especially an emotional one love at first sight The reviews that I find the most difficult to write are not the negative or even the glowing ones, but the ones about books that that may be not the best written or the best plotted but touch me on a personal level, the ones that strike close to my inner core I haven t read any other novel by Richard Russo, but starting on Empire Falls felt like going to a party where you don t know anybody, starting coup de foudre A sudden unexpected event, especially an emotional one love at first sight The reviews that I find the most difficult to write are not the negative or even the glowing ones, but the ones about books that that may be not the best written or the best plotted but touch me on a personal level, the ones that strike close to my inner core I haven t read any other novel by Richard Russo, but starting on Empire Falls felt like going to a party where you don t know anybody, starting up a conversation with a stranger, and finding that you are kindred souls, ending up on the balcony talking and talking and talking about life, the universe and everything until the sun comes up.Empire Falls is about a small factory town in Maine paper and textile mills , after the industry has packed its bags and left for a third world country Left behind are the former workers, now haunting the derelict streets like zombies, emotionally drained and too tired to even consider starting over.The poster boy of Empire Falls is Miles Roby, a middle aged man who has been flipping burgers at the Empire Grill for twenty years Brought back temporarily from a promising start in a Boston college by a family crisis, Miles is now struggling to keep the business afloat for his wealthy owner, to cope with divorce and with a teenage daughter, with a brother recovering from drug addiction, with a dad who is a grifter and a crook, with an old flame returning to town and with another old flame that is still ignoring his tentative advances He also spends a lot of his time reminiscing about the past and about the wrong turns that had put him in this dead end spot.I will not try to explainabout the plot, other than mentioning that there is a lot of resentment and passion running like an undercurrent through the placid town, leading to a devastating conclusion By following Miles Roby down memory lane, I have got to know not only the secret history of Empire Falls, but also the personal dramas of his friends and families By the end of the story, I felt like I have also spend part of my life in a rundown industrial town Ploiesti right now is nor exactly prosperous, not at the end of its tether either This is for me the forte of Richard Russo his empathy for these fallible people, his sharp insights delivered with a compassionate touch I only have one quote to illustrate my point, but there are numerous others in the story that I left behind, focusing instead on the families and their troubles Miles is watching his daughter s schoolmates sitting at a table in his dinerMy God, he couldn t help thinking, how terrible it is to be that age, to have emotions so near the surface that the slightest turbulence causes them to boil over That, very simply, was what adulthood must be all about acquiring the skill to bury thingsdeeply Out of sight and, whenever possible, out of mindEmpire Falls is not a happy story, although it does occasionally remembers to laugh or to be tender The major tonality is one of loneliness and sadness, and this is why I was reminded of how a picture can paint a thousand words, and why I decided that the best way to capture the impression it made on me is to include some artwork in my review how I imagine Empire Falls, the town how I imagine Empire Grill, the diner Tick and her boyfriend in the evening the isolated house by the railroad yes, there is one spooky house in the novel Miles Roby s wife Miles Roby s mother, as a young woman all images copyright Edward Hopper