It is Thanksgiving in North Bank and Sully, old Miss Beryl's feckless lodger, does not have much to be thankful for. His arthritic knee is acting up and so is his truck; his ex-wife is at the end of her tether; his mistress is giving him the cold shoulder; and the grinning ghost of his father won't leave him alone. The future looks bleak when ...
It is Thanksgiving in North Bank and Sully, old Miss Beryl's feckless lodger, does not have much to be thankful for. His arthritic knee is acting up and so is his truck; his ex-wife is at the end of her tether; his mistress is giving him the cold shoulder; and the grinning ghost of his father won't leave him alone. The future looks bleak when Sully's son Peter, a morose college professor, returns, offering Sully a chance to address a lifetime of neglected responsibilities and threatening his carefree existence.
Next to my childhood home was a rental home. This two-flat had a menagerie of tenets over the course of the twenty years I lived there ? all colorful, all interesting ? some quite scary. My favorite tenants moved in when I was five years old ? their names were Herb and Bones. I loved these guys. They were biker hippies ? living the single life in 1974 ? plenty of woman, ?herbs?, parties and visitors.
I knew nothing of there lifestyle. This is what I knew ? on a near daily basis I would knock on their door ? one of them would answer (probably hung over ? or worse!) ? see me, smile and say, ?Hey, little Fizz, what?s happening?? (Side note ? my father?s nickname, in this very small town, was Fizz ? making my brother Fizz Jr. and me little Fizz). To this I would hold up a Frisbee and ask if they wanted to play ? they always said ?yes!? What a picture ? little fizz playing Frisbee in the middle of the street with a couple of longhaired bikers. This is one of my best childhood memories.
I don?t know what happened to Bones, but Herb is still around. I see him occasionally and he always makes me smile. He has lived a life much like Sully ? the main character in Nobody?s Fool ? a life filled with selfish and courageous choices that were always fueled by an unquenchable desire to be free. Herb lives on the edge ? few entanglements, always free to leave ? today ? if the urge should strike.
There is so much about Sully (Herb) that I absolutely don?t agree with ? a world full of these guys and the civilized world would be in shambles. But Sully (Herb) is the guy who will give his boss the finger (like we wish we could), he says the things, does the things and goes places many of us privately wish we could, but never will. The last three times I saw Herb, he:
? Sold his Harley and gave all the money to his brother in an effort to help him save his farm.
? Sold everything he owned, bought a large tent, hitch hiked out west and became a sheepherder.
? Moved into a shed behind the main gas station in town ? room for a bed and his Harley ? lived on microwaved burritos from the gas station ? no TV, no fridge, and no pantry.
Sully (Herb) has no bank account. No 401K. No medical benefits. He lives a simple life in which he deals with what is in front of him ? today. He is fascinating in what he reveals about what matters in life ? because he is not impressed with pretention ? he sees through you ? sees your heart. Sully is a real man ? I?ve known him all my life ? his name is Herb. Funny thing is ? when I think about growing up in a small town ? I can think of many more Sully?s ? some I?m even related to. I love those guys.
If you grew up in a small town ? read this book - you will know this man intimately. If you did not grow up in a small town ? read this book ? this is a treasured slice of America that has been lost through the sterilization of our minds and culture resulting from suburbanization, mass everything and an insane desire to look and live like ?everyone else.? Nobody?s Fool is a piece if genius.
Nov 22, 2008
Richard Russo has an amazing ability to bring in enough humor, true to life, character analysis to keep things moving and always interesting. This book is no exception. There is a lot of disfunctional events going on but wrapped up believably in the end....
Publishers Weekly, 1993-03-29 It's about time that people looking for a good read discovered the novels of Richard Russo. It's not just that he writes with panache, his verbal dexterity a mixture of biting wit and potent insight. He also endows his subjects-- blue-collar people living in economically desperate communities--with dignity, finding in their humble circumstances the essential questions of existence. Yet here as in his previous novels, Mohawk and The Risk Pool , the events in his protagonist's life are the material of rollicking high comedy. A succession of contretemps conspire to keep Donald ``Sully'' Sullivan mired in a morass of bad luck, compounded at every turn by his own stubborn, self-destructive streak. Financial solvency has always eluded Sully, an unemployed construction worker. At 60, he is suffering from a badly mangled, constantly aching knee, the consequence of a typically foolish accident; his pickup truck is moribund; his long-time mistress is restive; his ex-wife is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and his son Peter has come home for Thanksgiving with news that his marriage is disintegrating and that he has lost his job. Sully's sagging fortunes are mirrored by his community's decline. North Bath, N.Y., is a town prosperity has shunned: its signature hot springs mysteriously dried up years ago and a projected Ultimate Escape theme park is doomed never to materialize. Sully's financial problems might be solved by the sale of his dead father's dilapidated house, but Sully's gnawing hatred of Big Jim, a viciously mean, hypocritical bully, renders him incapable of profiting from his father's estate. His emotional distance from Big Jim left Sully incapable of forging a bond with Peter, or indeed, of establishing any relationship that he cannot address with a wisecrack or a teasing quip. In fact (and somewhat improbably), all the characters in the novel have the gift of a silver tongue: the dialogue often consists of verbal sparring, insults exhanged in comradely fashion. The narrative brims with memorable portraits: Sully's mentally dim and odoriferous sidekick, Rub Squeers; his feisty 80-year-old landlady and former grade-school teacher, Miss Beryl; his ex-wife, a woman animated by moral outrage and self pity; his mistress's stiletto-tongued daughter and her waif-like, wall-eyed child; his one-legged alcoholic lawyer--even his thoroughly wicked grandson, the pint-sized reincarnation of Big Jim. In delivering these personalities with a Dickensian skill, Russo again proves himself a shrewd observer of human nature, whose universal failings he scrutinizes with a comic eye and a compassionate heart. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1994-04-11 Set in the economically desperate ex-resort town of North Bath, N.Y., Russo's novel displays his characteristic verbal panache and biting wit. (May)
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