Elsewhere: A Memoir

Richard Russo. Knopf, $25.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-307-95953-9
The Gloversville, N.Y., native and Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist (Empire Falls) fashions a gracious memoir about his tenacious mother, a fiercely independent GE employee who nonetheless relied on her only son to manage her long life. Separated from her gambler husband, Russo’s mother, Jean, resolved that she and her son were a “team,” occupying the top floor of Russo’s grandparents’ modest house in a once-thriving factory town where “nine out of ten dress gloves in the United States were manufactured,” the author notes proudly. Yet its heyday had long passed, cheap-made goods had invaded, and the town by the late 1960s was depressed and hollowed out; Russo’s intrepid, if erratic mother encouraged Russo to break out of the “dimwitted ethos of the ugly little mill town” and attend college at the University of Arizona, in Tucson. Except she came, too, on a hilariously delineated road trip in the 1960 Ford Galaxie Russo purchased and nicknamed the Gray Death. Despite the promise of a new job and new life, however, Jean was never content; many years later when Russo and his wife and increasing family moved from Tucson back to the East Coast as his job as an English professor and writer dictated, his mother had to be resettled nearby, too, in a long era of what Russo eventually saw as enabling her obsessive-compulsive disorder. Russo’s memoir is heavy on logistical detail—people moving around, houses packed and unpacked—and by turns rueful and funny, emotionally opaque and narratively rich. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/15/2012
Release date: 10/30/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-0-449-01253-6
Open Ebook - 131 pages - 978-0-307-95954-6
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-307-94976-9
Hardcover - 329 pages - 978-1-4104-5295-5
Compact Disc - 6 pages - 978-0-449-01251-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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