Tag Archives: Empire Falls

WWW Wednesday, 23-August-2017

23 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I’m still working on Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. I checked yesterday and I’m on chapter 34 of 40 so I really do promise I’ll finish this book!
I started a new audiobook while on vacation, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I’m really enjoying it so far and I’m looking forward to continuing to learn how wondrous Oscar’s life is.
I have a new physical book as well, The Detroit Electric Scheme by D.E. Johnson. It’s fun to read a book set in your town, but I’m having some issues with this book already. It’s not enough to stop me from reading it, but it will make for a long review.

Recently finishedI was able to finish Chemistry by Weike Wang on the plane to New Orleans. I’m excited to put up a review next week and see if I can talk to Weike about the book a little and share with you all.

Two reviews to share! I posted a review of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum on Monday. I enjoyed the book but it wasn’t what I was expecting and I think that threw it off for me. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.
I also posted a review of Empire Falls by Richard Russo yesterday. I understand why this book won the Pulitzer and now I want to see the HBO mini-series! Does aAnyone know if it’s easy to get a copy of that?

Reading Next: It turns out I am going to the conference I mentioned in my last post so I will not be reading for my upcoming book club. Instead, I’ll likely read My Jesus Year by Benyamin Cohen. It feels good to knock some of my own books off my TBR, especially as I build it up while traveling.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Book Review: Empire Falls by Richard Russo (4/5)

22 Aug

Way back in 2013, I had a Page-a-Day Book calendar. I got a huge number of recommendations from that thing and it kick-started by Goodreads TBR and is very responsible for how long the thing now is. This title was one of those recommendations and part of me wishes I still had it so I could read the blurb that convinced me to add it to my TBR and later buy it from a used book store. Thanks to my readers who picked it on WWW Wednesday as my next book!

Cover Image via Goodreads

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Summary from Goodreads:

Dexter County, Maine, and specifically the town of Empire Falls, has seen better days, and for decades, in fact, only a succession from bad to worse. One by one, its logging and textile enterprises have gone belly-up, and the once vast holdings of the Whiting clan (presided over by the last scion’s widow) now mostly amount to decrepit real estate. The working classes, meanwhile, continue to eke out whatever meager promise isn’t already boarded up.

Miles Roby gazes over this ruined kingdom from the Empire Grill, an opportunity of his youth that has become the albatross of his daily and future life. Called back from college and set to work by family obligations—his mother ailing, his father a loose cannon—Miles never left home again. Even so, his own obligations are manifold: a pending divorce; a troubled younger brother; and, not least, a peculiar partnership in the failing grill with none other than Mrs. Whiting. All of these, though, are offset by his daughter, Tick, whom he guides gently and proudly through the tribulations of adolescence.

A decent man encircled by history and dreams, by echoing churches and abandoned mills, by the comforts and feuds provided by lifelong friends and neighbors, Miles is also a patient, knowing guide to the rich, hardscrabble nature of Empire Falls: fathers and sons and daughters, living and dead, rich and poor alike. Shot through with the mysteries of generations and the shattering visitations of the nation at large, it is a social novel of panoramic ambition, yet at the same time achingly personal. In the end, Empire Falls reveals our worst and best instincts, both our most appalling nightmares and our simplest hopes, with all the vision, grace and humanity of truly epic storytelling.

In a rough sense, this book reminded me of The Casual Vacancy. The story is about a whole town and the people have their own stories and their own quirks. The difference here is how much each story overlapped with the others. For example, Otto overlapped with Tick and Miles. I liked that there was a true focus on the Roby family which gave me a rallying point and helped me ignore plotlines that would turn out to be unimportant. I thought it was very well done.

I liked the depiction of small-town life. Janine was particularly despicable which made her fun. I loved hating her and Walt. I adored Tick and her struggles and how she dealt with them. They were each well developed and very different which is important and refreshing in a novel of this structure. I liked that we saw a lot of different backgrounds and ages in the book and got to see the problems they had individually and as a group.

Tick was my favorite. I liked her sass and I understood where it came from. She obviously blamed her mother for the divorce and for expelling her beloved father from her life. Honestly, how could you not blame Jenine? I didn’t think she redeemed herself and I don’t think she ever will. Tick tried to avoid the problems, a very appropriate response given her age and I liked that Russo didn’t try to make her feel older than she was.

I think Tick’s story was really relatable and that was part of why I enjoyed it. I haven’t been a parent, drunkard, or grandparent so the other narrating characters were less relatable to me. I wasn’t a popular kid in high school, either. Somehow, I landed a cute boyfriend who was condescending and rude. It was oddly parallel and I’m glad Tick was strong and made new friends, even trying to reach out to someone who needed help. Her heart was in the right place.

Richard Russo
Image from Authors Guild

I know this is terrible, but reading Jenine and Walt’s marriage fall apart was oddly satisfying. I disliked her character so much that seeing her find out how he was being untruthful about his age and money was great. He was good in bed, but that was about it. Jenine was so quick to judge everyone that it backfired on her.

The ending bothered me a bit so I want to talk about it. Skip this paragraph to avoid spoilers. A lot went into building up John Voss as an outsider but the ending seemed too predictable. I would have liked to see Tick get into his head, his world, a little bit more before he fell apart. It seems like he had some kind of break but we don’t see it and it’s hard to imagine how it was triggered without knowing him better. He’s one character I would have liked to get into a bit more.

More spoilers here! This book was published in 2001, two years after the Columbine High School shootings. I feel fairly sure that Russo was thinking about that tragedy when he was writing this book. How could someone in a small town become so angry that they would do something so violent? We’re lead through a world where John Voss becomes that person. It’s scary to see it happen and it makes it obvious how small actions can lead to someone choosing that path.

Writer’s Takeaway: On the surface, this seems like a book that would have too many characters but Russo handles them well. We really focused on the Whitings, Mintys, and Robys. Of course, other characters come into play, but always in a way that links them between these major characters. This helped the book maintain focus while telling a story about a town and not a person. I think this is a hard balance to strike and Russo does an amazing job.

I enjoyed the book and the characters a lot. I’d read another Russo book to be sure. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Richard Russo- Empire Falls | The Pulitzer Project
Empire Falls by Richard Russo | Book Club Mom
Empire Falls | Just Browsing

WWW Wednesday, 16-August-2017

16 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


**So, it’s worth noting that I am AGAIN out-of-town and writing this quite in advance. Hey, it’s the summer and I’m going to take my vacation while I can! I may be a bit slow in responding but I am around and in the country this time. Send me some love while I explore NEW ORLEANS! I’m going to try to hit up a few bookstores here to report back.

Currently reading: Moderate progress on Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. Probably some of my best progress in months, actually. It’s nice having time to read during lunch again! I think I’m about 2/3 of the way through and I’ll keep pushing forward.
New books for this list! The first is a new audiobook, The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer. Before I met Meltzer a few years back, I was at a church used book sale and picked up a few of his books, including this one. I’m listening to the audio to get to it sooner than I would my paper copy. So far, he’s delivering on the fast-paced thriller!
I also got to start Chemistry by Weike Wang! I’m really hoping to do an author interview with this book as I knew Wang in high school. If you want to read more about that, check out this post.

Recently finishedI finished I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum while cooking last Wednesday and I’ve been waiting a week to tell you all. I enjoyed it, but not for the reasons I expected to. It was sad but I could have known that if I read book summaries. I’ll have a review up next week. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.
I also finished
 Empire Falls by Richard Russo on Friday. I knew this book was going to come to a quick end and I kind-of saw it coming, but I still gasped out loud near the end! I think I woke my husband up from his nap. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars. I also plan to have this review up next week.

Many of you have commented on it, but I posted a review of Commonwealth by Ann Patchett last Thursday. Please go check it out if you haven’t yet and let me know what you think! I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: As of writing, I think my next book will still be The Sellout by Paul Beatty. This might change just before I leave on my trip, though! I got invited to a conference that would interfere with me attending the book club meeting on this book. As much as I’m looking forward to it, I’ll skip the book if I can’t make the meeting and read something off my TBR instead. If that’s the case, I’ll probably pick My Jesus Year by Benyamin Cohen. It’s at the top of my TBR books that I own. Or I might grab something from the library before I leave. I’ll have to report back next week.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 9-August-2017

9 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: Another slow week on Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. I think I read a chapter? Maybe? Whatever it was, it’s not that impressive. If I have a big week with this one, you’ll all hear about it!
I had a lot of running time with I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum which I’ve enjoyed. I don’t always turn it on in the car if it’s a short drive so I’m sure I could get through more of this but my pace is working well for me!
I’m getting close to the end of Empire Falls by Richard Russo. I really hope I can add this one to my ‘finished’ list next week because I’m itching to pick up my next read!

Recently finished: Another week of not finishing anything for me. I think I’ll knock down two before next week, though!

I am making progress with reviews, though! You can check out my review of A Son of the Circus by John Irving which went up Monday. I have another review coming at y’all tomorrow!

 

Reading Next: I’m determined to pick up Chemistry by Weike Wang before I read my next book club selection,  The Sellout by Paul Beatty. I think I’ll have time due to the short book and my eagerness to get to it!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 2-August-2017

2 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I made a lot less progress with Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi than I’d hoped for. We didn’t have a lot of down time and I was always trying to save phone battery for navigating the public transportation systems! Oh well. I’m still steadily picking at this one and will be for a while.
I enjoyed the part of I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum that I’ve gotten through so far. I did a fair amount of running while I was on vacation (no pool or bike needed!) so this came along with me to keep me entertained.
You all picked my physical book and it ended up being Empire Falls by Richard Russo. This book is a nice, slow burn that I’m really liking so thank you, everyone, who voted for it and picked it. I’m about half way through but I’ll slow down now that I don’t have 5-hour plane rides to devote to it.

Recently finished: All of my projections from last week were correct (yay) but I didn’t finish anything else for this past week. Boo!

I did post a review for Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) on Monday which you can go check out. I’ve got two more I owe you all over the next week or so. Expect a steady stream of them going forward.

Reading Next: Hm, trick question. My book club meets in September to read The Sellout by Paul Beatty so I might pick that up. Alternatively, I’m thinking of reading Chemistry by Weike Wang next. I have a crazy story about this book I’ll be sharing tomorrow when I talk about the Elliot Bay Book Company so come back and check that out!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Recently Added To My To-Read List (Part 1)

18 Nov

If you are a follower of this blog, it will come as no surprise to you that I added a total of 13 books to my to-read list since I last did an update of this type. In order to get my tired self to sleep sooner rather than later, I’m going to do this in two parts. Here are the first six.

  1. Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody. When I was in Northern Michigan visiting family, my cousins took me to the house where Mahmoody lived in Aplena. I was intrigued and decided that I had to read the book of a woman who was stuck in Iran and refused to leave (you guessed it) without her daughter.
  2. The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I forget who already, but someone told me I have to read this book. It’s a classic so I completely agreed. Funny enough, one of my co-workers told me I needed to read it last week. I guess I really need to.
  3. Empire Falls by Richard Russo. This book was yet another of the book calendar recommendations that are crowding my list. I saw that it’s an option for my library’s book club packs and the story reminded me just enough of the character I wrote during NaNoWriMo, so I thought I could call it research.
  4. Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham. This was recommended to me by Kristen Lamb when I had trouble understanding the elements of a scene. I hope reading it will help my writing. Thanks, Kristen!
  5. When I Crossed No-Bob by Margaret McMullan. McMullan is a professor at my alma mater and I thought it would be appropriate to check out one of her books.
  6. Abraham by Bruce Feiler. I did a post a few weeks ago about meeting Bruce Feiler. This is the book I had him sign. I’m unsure if I want to let it out of my apartment!

So there you are, my next six books added and waiting for me to commit to them by checking them out from the library. Any winners on the list? Anything that you think might be a dud? Leave a comment and let me know.

Until next time, write on.