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Niagara Falls All over Againby Elizabeth McCracken
Synopses & Reviews
Elizabeth McCracken's epigraph to her stunning second novel, Niagara Falls All Over Again, is a line from Atoll K, Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel's last movie, made in 1950. Hardy says to Laurel, "Haven't I always taken care of you? You're the first one I think of." This line, in its poignant simplicity, is the echo heard throughout Niagara Falls, as comedy team Carter and Sharp traverse ten years of vaudeville, move on to radio and Broadway, and finally graduate to making movies in Hollywood. Narrator Mose Carter is the straight man to Rocky Sharp — a lean, pragmatic Abbott to Sharp's bumbling, plump Costello. Their path to success is littered, inevitably, with tragedy, but McCracken traces this frequently problematic relationship with her customary inventiveness, sharp wit, and delicate heart. McCracken has always displayed a keen eye for mismatched love stories. Her first novel, The Giant's House, and her collection of stories, Here's Your Hat, What's Your Hurry?, open the reader up to the vagaries and truths behind some of the oddest couplings. Niagara Falls All Over Again is fabulous entertainment, for McCracken drives an action-packed plot with the power of a locomotive. But it is her human portraits and the way she paints the pain and pleasure of relationships that show her for the master she is. McCracken is a beautiful writer. Her characters are sympathetic because she translates human frailty with such honesty that we have no choice but to recognize the same qualities in ourselves. Georgie, Powells.com
By turns graceful and knowing, funny and moving, Niagara Falls All Over Again is the latest masterwork by National Book Award finalist and author of The Giants House, Elizabeth McCracken.
Spanning the waning years of vaudeville and the golden age of Hollywood, Niagara Falls All Over Again chronicles a flawed, passionate friendship over thirty years, weaving a powerful story of family and love, grief and loss. In it, McCracken introduces her most singular and affecting hero: Mose Sharp—son, brother, husband, father, friend ... and straight man to the fat guy in baggy pants who utterly transforms his life.
To the paying public, Mose Sharp was the arch, colorless half of the comedy team Carter and Sharp. To his partner, he was charmed and charming, a confirmed bachelor who never failed at love and romance. To his father and sisters, Mose was a prodigal son. And in his own heart and soul, he would always be a boy who once had a chance to save a girls life—a girl who would be his first, and greatest, loss.
Born into a Jewish family in small-town Iowa, the only boy among six sisters, Mose Sharp couldnt leave home soon enough. By sixteen Mose had already joined the vaudeville circuit. But he knew one thing from the start: “I needed a partner,” he recalls. “I had always needed a partner.”
Then, an ebullient, self-destructive comedian named Rocky Carter came crashing into his life—and a thirty-year partnership was born. But as the comedy team of Carter and Sharp thrived from the vaudeville backwaters to Broadway to Hollywood, a funny thing happened amid the laughter: It was Mose who had all the best lines offstage.
Rocky would go through money, women, and wives in his restless search for love; Mose would settle down to a family life marked by fragile joy and wrenching tragedy. And soon, cracks were appearing in their complex relationship ... until one unforgivable act leads to another and a partnership begins to unravel.
In a novel as daring as it is compassionate, Elizabeth McCracken introduces an indelibly drawn cast of characters—from Moses Iowa family to the vagabond friends, lovers, and competitors who share his dizzying journey—as she deftly explores the fragile structures that underlie love affairs and friendships, partnerships and families.
An elegiac and uniquely American novel, Niagara Falls All Over Again is storytelling at its finest—and powerful proof that Elizabeth McCracken is one of the most dynamic and wholly original voices of her generation.
"[E]nchantingly detailed and immensely appealing....The show-biz atmosphere is re-created with great skill....A career-making book that bears interesting comparison with both Philip Roth's I Married a Communist and Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. This one is going places." Kirkus Reviews
In this "New York Times" Notable Book of the Year, two young men, Carter and Sharp, become the most famous comedy team of their era, conquering vaudeville, the movies, radio and television. Their 30 year partnership prevails--until Carter commits one desperate act of betrayal. 320 p.
During thirty years together as the most famous comedy team of their era, conniving comedian Rocky Carter and his straightman, Mose Sharp, a small-town boy from Valley Junction, Iowa, have enjoyed a warm relationship and encountered a host of colorful characters on their road to fame and fortune, until Rocky commits a desperate act of betrayal. Reprint.
<P>By turns graceful and knowing, funny and moving, <I>Niagara Falls All Over Again</I> is the latest masterwork by National Book Award finalist and author of <I>The Giant's House,</I> Elizabeth McCracken.</P><P>Spanning the waning years of vaudeville and the golden age of Hollywood, <I>Niagara Falls All Over Again</I> chronicles a flawed, passionate friendship over thirty years, weaving a powerful story of family and love, grief and loss. In it, McCracken introduces her most singular and affecting hero: Mose Sharp — son, brother, husband, father, friend... and straight man to the fat guy in baggy pants who utterly transforms his life.</P><P>In a novel as daring as it is compassionate, Elizabeth McCracken introduces an indelibly drawn cast of characters — from Mose's Iowa family to the vagabond friends, lovers, and competitors who share his dizzying journey — as she deftly explores the fragile structures that underlie love affairs and friendships, partnerships and families.</P><p>An elegiac and uniquely American novel, <I>Niagara Falls All Over Again</I> is storytelling at its finest — and powerful proof that Elizabeth McCracken is one of the most dynamic and wholly original voices of her generation.</P><hr><p>"A bittersweet novel with a breakneck pace and near-perfect timing."<br> <I>NEWSWEEK</i></p><hr>
About the Author
Elizabeth McCracken is the recipient of the Harold Vursell Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Michener Foundation, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She was also honored as one of Granta's 20 Best American Writers Under 40. In addition to The Giant?s House, she is the author of Here?s Your Hat, What?s Your Hurry.
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