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Niagara Falls All Over Again

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  925 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
Born into a Jewish family in small-town Iowa, Mose Sharp couldn't 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'. 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 Carte ...more
Paperback, 308 pages
Published January 2nd 2003 by Vintage (first published 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,925)
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Leslie
I came to this book at exactly the right time; I needed a book I could sink into. It's not radical or experimental, it won't change the direction of modern fiction or transform your view of the possibilities of narrative. But it's really, really good. It was a pure pleasure to read. The characterisation was wonderfully convincing. It tells the story of Carter and Sharp, a comedy team like Abbot and Costello or Laurel and Hardy, a fat funny man and skinny straight man. Mose (known as Mike profess ...more
Jenna  Wolfstone
Mar 17, 2008 Jenna Wolfstone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another unconventional love story by Elizabeth McCracken! Another book that made me cry!

A vaudeville team from conception to death: on the circuit in the 30's; the radio in the 40's; movies in the 50's; wash-ups in the 60's. The impact of fame on love, life, money, friendship. As the team approaches the end of their lives, they deal with the end of their fame in different ways.

And the love story part: no, the two men were never lovers but McCracken manages to capture the concept that a working
...more
Angela
Jul 25, 2008 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. This is the story of a mid-twentieth century comedy act, told by the straight man. They start out in vaudeville and we learn about the arc of their success.

It's a very tenderly told story of companionship and love, dependence and emancipation. It's marvelous, I highly recommend this book.

This would make a great reading trilogy combined with Carter Beats the Devil and Water for Elephants - all are about people who work in the "golden age" of entertainment, and a
...more
Jamie
Aug 12, 2015 Jamie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: geezers, vaudevillians, actors, McCracken fans
Don't be fooled into thinking that this story, because it revolves around the lives of two comedic actors, is funny. It is is a nostalgic tragedy, though not overblown, and compelling because of its very human (read: flawed) characters and the way their lives either burst with resilience or crumble into ruin.

In the manner of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, it is the covers pulled off a creative collaboration and friendship between two talented men. In the manner of Freedom, it is
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Kwoomac
Hmmm. This story is about a a couple of vaudeville guys who work together for over twenty years. They start out on the stage, moving from one small venue to the next. They move on to radio, then the movies, and finally television. As one can imagine, their relationship was complicated: part married couple part friends, part rivals (both loved attention). They fought, they didn't speak, they got back together.

The title comes from a skit the Three Stooges did. My brothers and I re-enacted that bi
...more
Eric
Jul 22, 2010 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Golden Age of Hollywood will always be lovingly remembered for the emergence of the comedy duo. Those were the days of Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, and even the team of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. The formula for a good comedy duo was quite simple: one half of it was the buffoon, who delivered all the physical gags, and the remaining half was the straight man, who tried to remain unfazed by the former's antics. The formula worked so well that the trend even lasted through the sixties ...more
Felix
Nov 07, 2007 Felix rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book several years ago, got sidetracked into other ventures and picked it up again last month. Elizabeth McCracken is another graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Ann Patchett is another, and the two are friends. I saw mention of McCracken in an interview of Ann Patchett some years ago, and read McCracken's novel, The Giant's House, as well as a collection of short stories, Here's Your Hat, What's Your Hurry? I recommend those books, as well as Niagara Falls.

McCracken works the
...more
Tracey
Picked this up from the library after seeing Cranky's 4 star rating and seeing someone else comment "if you like The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, you may like this".

Both novels follow the stories of two young men in the entertainment industry in the first half of the 20th century, but this novel is more concrete and a bit more humourous. Not surprising, as the main characters are a comedy duo (Carter and Sharp) who start their careers in vaudeville, then move on to radio, the movi
...more
Jinksb
Oct 01, 2012 Jinksb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hate to say it, but as a reader, I'm very shallow. I prefer story-driven books. Fascinating characters are a plus, but won't hook me by themselves. And if I'm told I should read a book just because it's well-written, I feel like a kid with a plate of vegetables plunked in front of him who's told, "Eat up! They're good for you."

"Niagara Falls All Over Again" caught my attention with the subject matter: the story of a comedy duo rise through vaudeville, radio, movies and television, and their i
...more
bookczuk
Sep 06, 2010 bookczuk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing
Read this book while up in the mountains, and while I did like it, and the story captivated me while reading it, I'm hard-pressed to identify the elements of the book that actually captured me. Maybe the fact my father was a Vaudeville star? Maybe the elements of Jewish history in the early 20th century? Maybe early days of radio, movies and TV? Maybe the characters themselves, the love story and the life story. Or perhaps the writing, the telling of this story of two partners in comedy, their t ...more
Kalen
Feb 07, 2014 Kalen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
**** 1/2

I really loved this book and I wish more people knew Elizabeth McCracken. I found her by chance when I read The Giant's House several years ago, a book that has always stayed with me.

In Niagara Falls All Over Again, McCracken creates very real characters and I especially fell for Mike/Mose, the narrator of the story. The story of his relationships, especially the one with his partner Rocky, felt so real with all of the ups and downs real life relationships face. There is a lot of grief
...more
Lynn
Sep 24, 2015 Lynn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this one and it wasn't that interesting. But when I really got into the book, I really liked it. Her development of the characters (7 siblings, growing up in Iowa, only male sibling going into show business and moving to LA) made me want to be part of their family - so much love!

Mose's relationship with his vaude partner was witty and touching. Mose doesn't realize how much he relies on his partner and how much he cares for him as a friend until they split. But their relations
...more
Christie Ward
Apr 27, 2010 Christie Ward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. I remember it had a great quote in it, about when you dream that a loved one who has died is alive, and then you wake up to and must realize all over again that the loved one is still dead: "I never know if it's the meanest trick God plays on us, or the purest form of his love."
Sarah
Jan 02, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you liked The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, you'll enjoy this book. McCracken develops a complicated and wonderful relationship between the comedy duo of Carter and Sharp, and follows them as their lives unfold, while bringing you into the world of vaudeville.
Alarra
Jun 07, 2007 Alarra rated it really liked it
This just happened to push all my story buttons - love and dysfunctional families, the thin to disappearing line between love and the closest partnerships/frienships, to name a few - and it was funny and amusing and yet broke my heart in several ways
Jeremy
Aug 20, 2015 Jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a huge fan of Ann Patchett, so when I learned that she was a fan (and yes, friend) of Elizabeth McCracken, I thought I'd pick up one of McCracken's books. I was not disappointed. Niagara Falls All Over Again is a lovely book, comic and yet heart-rending, the tale of a vaudeville performer's transition from stage to screen - and of his relationship with his long-time performing partner (think Laurel and Hardy and you'd be in the ballpark). Choosing to focus on the straight man of the duo was ...more
Paula
Feb 08, 2009 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
This is another book-swapping book, one that sounded interesting from the blurb and so I took a chance on it and quite enjoyed what I found!

It's a book about vaudeville, and particularly written from the perspective of a small-town boy from Iowa whose father wants him to take over the family tailoring business but the smell of the greasepaint beckons. This particular individual ends up as a straight man in a double act, first on the stage, then radio and the movies, then finally television.

Meanw
...more
Jeana
May 07, 2009 Jeana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-fiction
While I didn't like this book as much as The Giant's House, I still really liked it. There's just something about McCracken's writing that lures me in every time, and keeps me reading.

I liked to see myself feeling compassionate for "the lady's man" and then seeing him turn into a family man, giving up his long-time partner and his stardom for what is really important--his family. There was something very touching about journeying through Mose Sharp's life. Despite his failures and inadequacies,
...more
Sandy
Sep 14, 2010 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Derek Emerson
Jan 01, 2013 Derek Emerson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-books-read
Elizabeth McCracken's novel, Niagara Falls All Over Again, is the complete package: strong plot, well developed characters, and several story lines which tie together well. There are so many ways in which this novel could have gone wrong, the fact that MckCracken pulls it off is a testament to her skill.

The novel is told to us by Moses Sharp, and Midwestern Jewish boy from a small town, who grows up to be the straight man in a highly successful comedy team. From his time on the vaudeville circui
...more
Beth
Jan 03, 2010 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just as McCracken showed us the world of librarianship, here she offers a peep at the exotic traveling life of vaudeville in the early and mid 1900's. Jewish Midwesterner Moses Sharp narrates his experience as the straight man professor to fat funnyman Rocky Carter on radio, stage and screen in a long and successful partnership that is wrought with argument, compromise, affairs, and hard work, like any marriage of two minds. Although McCracken may limit her audience with her choice of topic and ...more
Bill FromPA
The story of an Abbott and Costello-like comedy team from the 1930s through the 1970s , told by the straight man in the pair, Mose Sharp. This novel was a bit more reliant on pathos than the novels I usually read, but for the most part it was well handled. I did like that the characters' emotions were primarily conveyed by their actions and not by the author explicitly stating them. The depictions of show business relationships and the effects of fame on the characters were convincing.
Shelah
Feb 25, 2009 Shelah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've gotten out of chronological order already, since I actually read this book after reading McCracken's memoir. I was so excited I wanted to get my hands on another of her books. It was an interesting read about Mose Sharp, a Jewish boy from West Des Moines, Iowa (where my parents lived for several years, so it was fun reading about Valley Junction of a century ago) who runs away from taking on his father's shop and becomes a vaudeville star. He has a 40-year partnership with Rocky Carter, and ...more
Judy
Jan 25, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow at first, but give yourself a chance to really know these characters--they are charming, annoying, sad, and all the other things that make us humans so vulnerable to one another. A study of relationships set in the vaudeville era that makes one think about how much we are all alike no matter when we see the co-existing glory and threat of "Niagara Falls."
Liz
Dec 01, 2015 Liz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Maybe I'm not the most sophisticated reader around, but I love STORIES. Beautiful prose, sure, I like that, clever wordplay, vivid imagery, finely-wrought characters...all those things are good, but I still want the author to tell me a tale, take me on a journey, give me a peek into a time or place that is not my own. This book did that for me, and I loved it. I'll definitely be checking out more of her work.
David
Apr 05, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part of an interesting mini-genre of novels about comedy teams. In this little niche I would also recommend A Couple of Comedians by Don Carpenter and Where the Truth Lies by Rupert Holmes. The next one in this vein that I'll take on is Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die! by Mark Binelli.
Jennifer
Jul 31, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Karen gave me this a while ago, and I started it and then got distracted. Very, very glad I came back to it. It's a great story of a friendship that made and broke two people, lots of fun showbiz milieu stuff, and some passages I found myself bookmarking and reading aloud to myself.
Nancy Kackley
Apr 11, 2014 Nancy Kackley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The characters were interesting and from an era of entertainment history that I knew very little about, vaudeville and early radio & movies. The plot was both entertaining and poignant. It felt like a real person's story showing both the good and not-so-good side of people.
Therese
Read for book club (6/2011). From the point of view of "the straight man" (not referring to sexuality) Mose Sharp (follows the pair of Carter Sharp) from small stages to Hollywood films and television. The novel shows how both men approach relationships and fame differently. This book lead to a lot of fun discussion of other duos like this in real life and it was interesting as a younger member of the book group to hear from people who remembered the Vaudeville days first hand and could relate t ...more
John Norris
Jul 17, 2015 John Norris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this a very poignant read. Elizabeth McCracken writes very easily from a male perspective, and does an excellent job capturing the hurts and barbs of competition, friendship and accomplishment between two comics. Great title as well.
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Elizabeth McCracken (born 1966) is an American author. She is married to the novelist Edward Carey, with whom she has two children - August George Carey Harvey and Matilda Libby Mary Harvey. An earlier child died before birth, an experience which formed the basis for McCracken's memoir, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination.

McCracken, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, was born in
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“The cure for unhappiness is happiness,
I don't care what anyone says.”
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“Here's what I think: when you're born, you're assigned a brain like you're assigned a desk, a nice desk, with plenty of pigeonholes and drawers and secret compartments. At the start, it's empty, and then you spend your life filling it up. You're the only one who understands the filing system, you amass some clutter, sure, but somehow it works: you're asked the capital of Oregon, and you say Salem; you want to remember your first-grade teacher's name, and there it is, Miss Fox. Then suddenly you're old, and though everything's still in your brain, it's crammed so tight that when you try to remember the name of the guy who does the upkeep on your lawn, your first childhood crush comes fluttering out, or the persistent smell of tomato soup in a certain Des Moines neighborhood.” 3 likes
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