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Everybody's Fool

Cover of Everybody's Fool

Everybody's Fool

A Novel
An immediate national best seller and instant classic from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls. Richard Russo returns to North Bath—"a town where dishonesty abounds, everyone misapprehends everyone else and half the citizens are half-crazy" (The New York Times)—and the characters who made Nobody's Fool a beloved choice of book clubs everywhere. Everybody's Fool is classic Russo, filled with humor, heart, hard times, and people you can't help but love, possibly because their various faults make them so human.

Everybody's Fool picks up roughly a decade since we were last with Miss Beryl and Sully on New Year's Eve 1984. The irresistible Sully, who in the intervening years has come by some unexpected good fortune, is staring down a VA cardiologist's estimate that he has only a year or two left, and it's hard work trying to keep this news from the most important people in his life: Ruth, the married woman he carried on with for years . . . the ultra-hapless Rub Squeers, who worries that he and Sully aren't still best friends . . . Sully's son and grandson, for whom he was mostly an absentee figure (and now a regretful one). We also enjoy the company of Doug Raymer, the chief of police who's obsessing primarily over the identity of the man his wife might've been about to run off with, before dying in a freak accident . . . Bath's mayor, the former academic Gus Moynihan, whose wife problems are, if anything, even more pressing . . . and then there's Carl Roebuck, whose lifelong run of failing upward might now come to ruin. And finally, there's Charice Bond—a light at the end of the tunnel that is Chief Raymer's office—as well as her brother, Jerome, who might well be the train barreling into the station.
A crowning achievement—"like hopping on the last empty barstool surrounded by old friends" (Entertainment Weekly)—from one of the greatest storytellers of our time.
From the Hardcover edition.
An immediate national best seller and instant classic from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls. Richard Russo returns to North Bath—"a town where dishonesty abounds, everyone misapprehends everyone else and half the citizens are half-crazy" (The New York Times)—and the characters who made Nobody's Fool a beloved choice of book clubs everywhere. Everybody's Fool is classic Russo, filled with humor, heart, hard times, and people you can't help but love, possibly because their various faults make them so human.

Everybody's Fool picks up roughly a decade since we were last with Miss Beryl and Sully on New Year's Eve 1984. The irresistible Sully, who in the intervening years has come by some unexpected good fortune, is staring down a VA cardiologist's estimate that he has only a year or two left, and it's hard work trying to keep this news from the most important people in his life: Ruth, the married woman he carried on with for years . . . the ultra-hapless Rub Squeers, who worries that he and Sully aren't still best friends . . . Sully's son and grandson, for whom he was mostly an absentee figure (and now a regretful one). We also enjoy the company of Doug Raymer, the chief of police who's obsessing primarily over the identity of the man his wife might've been about to run off with, before dying in a freak accident . . . Bath's mayor, the former academic Gus Moynihan, whose wife problems are, if anything, even more pressing . . . and then there's Carl Roebuck, whose lifelong run of failing upward might now come to ruin. And finally, there's Charice Bond—a light at the end of the tunnel that is Chief Raymer's office—as well as her brother, Jerome, who might well be the train barreling into the station.
A crowning achievement—"like hopping on the last empty barstool surrounded by old friends" (Entertainment Weekly)—from one of the greatest storytellers of our time.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the cover Triangle

    Hilldale cemetery in North Bath was cleaved right down the middle, its Hill and Dale sections divided by a two-­lane macadam road, originally a colonial cart path. Death was not a thing unknown to the town's first hearty residents, but they seemed to have badly misjudged how much of it there'd be, how much ground would be needed to accommodate those lost to harsh winters, violent encounters with savages and all manner of illness. Or was it life, their own fecundity, they'd miscalculated? Ironically, it amounted to the same thing. The plot of land set aside on the outskirts of town became crowded, then overcrowded, then chock-­full, until finally the dead broke containment, spilling across the now-­paved road onto the barren flats and reaching as far as the new highway spur that led to the interstate. Where they'd head next was anybody's guess.

    Though blighted by Dutch elm disease in the '70s and more recently by a mold that attacked tree roots, causing them to weaken and constrict and allowing the ground, without warning, to collapse in pits, the original Hill section was still lovely, its mature plantings offering visitors shade and cool breezes. The gentle, rolling terrain and meandering gravel pathways felt natural and comfortable, even giving the impression that those resting beneath its picturesque hummocks—­some interred before the Revolutionary War—­had come there by choice rather than necessity. They seemed not so much deceased as peacefully drowsing beneath tilting headstones that resembled weathered comfy hats worn at rakish angles. Given the choice of waking into a world even more full of travail than the version they left, who could blame them for punching the snooze button and returning to their slumbers for another quarter century or so?

    By contrast, the newer Dale was as flat as a Formica tabletop and every bit as aesthetically pleasing. Its paved pathways were laid out on a grid, the more contemporary grave sites baked and raw looking, its lawn, especially the stretch nearest the highway, a quilt of sickly yellows and fecal browns. The adjacent acreage, where the Ultimate Escape Fun Park had once been pictured, was boggy and foul. Lately, during periods of prolonged rain, its pestilential groundwater tunneled under the road, loosening the soil and tugging downhill the caskets of those most recently interred. After a good nor'easter there was no guarantee that the grave site you visited featured the same casket as the week before. To many the whole thing defied logic. With all that seeping water, the Dale should have been richly verdant, whereas everything planted there shriveled and died, as if in sympathy with its permanent, if shifty, inhabitants. There had to be contamination involved, people said. All those putrid acres had been used as an unofficial dump for as long as anybody could remember, which was why they'd been purchased so cheaply by the fun park's planners. Recently, during a prolonged drought, dozens of leaking metal drums decorated with skulls and crossbones had surfaced. Some were old and rusty, leaking God-­only-­knew-what; other newcomers were labeled "chrome," which cast a pall of suspicion on neighboring Mohawk, a town once rich in tanneries, but these accusations were emphatically and for the most part convincingly denied. Anybody wanting to know what those tanneries did with their dyes and carcinogenic chemicals only had to visit the local landfill, the stream that ran through town or the hospital's oncology ward. Still, didn't the drums of toxic slurry have to come from somewhere? Downstate most likely. On this point the history of New York was unambiguous....
About the Author-
  • RICHARD RUSSO is the author of seven previous novels; two collections of stories; and Elsewhere, a memoir. In 2002 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls, which like Nobody's Fool was adapted to film, in a multiple-award-winning HBO mini-series.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Mark Bramhall's gorgeous narration of this deeply satisfying novel makes me wonder what it would be like for a great symphonic conductor to play all the instruments himself. Bramhall is superbly skilled and has a beautiful voice with amazing range, but what astonishes here is his humanity, not to mention sense of humor, as he brings Russo's entire town of North Bath, New York, to madcap life. Russo has never been better than in this virtuoso revisit to the scene of his earlier book NOBODY'S FOOL--this time starring the gormless police chief, Douglas Raymer. The plot builds, slowly at first, over two action-packed days until all the storylines pay off like the best and funniest fireworks show ever. Watch out for the escaped cobra. B.G. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 7, 2016
    When Doug Raymer, chief of police of the forlornly depressed town of North Bath, N.Y., falls into an open grave during a funeral service, it is only the first of many farcical and grisly incidents in Russo's shaggy dog story of revenge and redemption. Among the comical set pieces that propel the narrative are a poisonous snakebite, a falling brick wall, and a stigmatalike hand injury. North Bath, as readers of Nobody's Fool will remember, is the home of Sully Sullivan, the hero of the previous book and also a character here. Self-conscious, self-deprecating, and convinced he's everybody's fool, Raymer is obsessed with finding the man his late wife was about to run off with when she fell down the stairs and died. He's convinced that the garage door opener he found in her car will lead him to her lover's home. Meanwhile, he pursues an old feud with Sully; engages in repartee with his clever assistant and her twin brother; and tries to arrest a sociopath whose preferred means of communication are his fists. The remaining circle of ne'er-do-wells, ex-cons, daily drunks, deadbeats, and thieves behave badly enough to keep readers chuckling. The give-and-take of rude but funny dialogue is Russo's trademark, as is his empathy for down-and-outers on the verge of financial calamity. He takes a few false steps, such as giving Raymer a little voice in his head named Dougie, but clever plot twists end the novel on lighthearted note. 250,000-copy announced first printing.

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Everybody's Fool
Everybody's Fool
A Novel
Richard Russo
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