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The Whore's Child: And Other Storiesby Richard Russo
"Russo's stories are first and foremost a pleasure to read. He writes clearly and lucidly about recognizable characters in compelling situations. A great many authors seem to be creating for graduate writing programs; Russo is one of the few who writes for the rest of us, the ones who — like Chabon — remember when a short story was actually a story, and you wanted to read it. It's astonishing how rare that is anymore." Chris Bolton, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
To this irresistible debut collection of short stories, Richard Russo brings the same bittersweet wit, deep knowledge of human nature, and spellbinding narrative gifts that distinguish his best-selling novels. His themes are the imperfect bargains of marriage; the discoveries and disillusionments of childhood; the unwinnable battles men and women insist on fighting with the past.
A cynical Hollywood moviemaker confronts his dead wife's lover and abruptly realizes the depth of his own passion. As his parents' marriage disintegrates, a precocious fifth-grader distracts himself with meditations on baseball, spaghetti, and his place in the universe. And in the title story, an elderly nun enters a college creative writing class and plays havoc with its tidy notions of fact and fiction.
The Whore's Child is further proof that Russo is one of the finest writers we have, unsparingly truthful yet hugely compassionate and capable of creating characters so real that they seem to step off the page.
"An author whose laid-back understatements can be as sharp as other writers' boldest declarations....The architect of stories you can't put down." The New York Times
"Straightforward and engaging from the first page....Mr. Russo makes writing short stories seem effortless." The Wall Street Journal
"Russo's rueful understanding of the twisted skein of human relationships is as sharp as ever, and the dialogue throughout is barbed, pointed and wryly humorous. The collection is a winner." Publishers Weekly
"[A] wonderful distillation of Russo's gifts for crystal-clear narration, subtle character portrayal, and irrepressible humor....There may be more important writers around, but none is more likable, or more dependably entertaining and rewarding, than Russo." Kirkus Reviews
"[Russo] stands alone as the Stendhal of blue-collar America." Esquire
"The Whore's Child should solidify his reputation....All seven stories are lovely examples of Russo's wit and compassion." Newark Sunday Star-Ledger
"The short story alters the tragicomic balance that is a hallmark of [Russo's] novels, darkening it....If anyone can get away with overwriting, it's Richard Russo..." Rand Richards Cooper, The New York Times Book Review
"[Russo] has joined those writers who can be said to have coined their own universe....[He] achieves an emotional balance through his humor and generosity of spirit." Chicago Sun-Times
"This collection provides a wealth of delights and rewards from an author who's surely hitting full stride." James Schiff, Book Magazine
"These beautifully crafted stories, made more appealing by their rueful humor, are the work of a writer at the top of his game." New York Post
"Russo is a master of the small moment as nuclear explosion, the life-changing turn of the screw. His writing is unornate, but as authoritative (and cool) as marble....The Whore's Child is...powerful and moving." The Atlanta Journal Constitution
"In his first book of short fiction...Richard Russo doesn't stray from naturalism; the quotidian details are recognizable, and the epiphanies are kept on an appropriately modest scale. And there wasn't one of these seven stories that felt to me like a chore to read....My guesses as to why Russo avoids the pitfalls of naturalism keep coming back to the basics: He's more interested in communicating to his readers than in achieving a washed-out preciousness in his prose. And, with the exception of 'The Farther You Go,' which resolves itself rather too neatly and features the closest thing here to a wholly unlikable protagonist, Russo hasn't given despair the upper hand. For one thing, he's funny. And for another, the characters aren't puppets at the mercy of existential dread. They've chosen their own predicaments." Charles Taylor, Salon.com
"Russo again proves himself the master of real-life angst with the comic twist. His characters are sometimes funny, often sad, but never pathetic." Orlando Sentinel
"[Russo's] stories are considerably harder-edged and bleaker than his novels....Despite the darkness of his themes, all of the stories are told with great authority and near flawless technique." Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
A debut collection of short stories from Pulitzer-Prize winner Richard Russo (Empire Falls) that abounds with bittersweet humor and a deep knowledge of human nature.
In his first collection, a master storyteller focuses on a fresh and fascinating range of human behavior. With a fluency of tone that will surprise even his devoted readers, Russo captures both bewildering horror and heartrending tenderness with an absorbing, compassionate authority.
About the Author
Richard Russo lives in coastal Maine with his wife and their two daughters. He has written five novels: Mohawk, The Risk Pool, Nobody's Fool, Straight Man, and Empire Falls, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
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