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Nobody's Fool
Richard Russo
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Nobody's Fool

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  13,056 ratings  ·  676 reviews
In his slyly funny and moving new novel, the author of The Risk Pool follows the unexpected operation of grace in a deadbeat, upstate New York town--and in the lives of the unluckiest of its citizens. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Paul Newman, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith, and Jessica Tandy. Author reading tour.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
Audio CD
Published by Random House Audio Publishing Group (first published 1993)
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The main character of this book, Donald ‘Sully’ Sullivan, is a routinely careless man who left his wife and had almost nothing to do with raising his son. He’s had an affair with a married woman for twenty years, and he’s lusting after yet another man’s wife. Sully also drinks and gambles on a near daily basis. At one point in this book he pimp slaps a woman, and there's another part in which he engages in an act that probably meets the legal definition of animal cruelty.

Sounds like a real bast
Michael O'Neill
I listened to Nobody's Fool while driving a rented moving van across country and regretted only that I was by myself and had no one else to laugh with, cry with, commiserate with, or just plain hug when it ended. I've read a few of Richard Russo's books and I don't understand why he doesn't have a statue on the Washington Mall. Must be only because he is still alive. Of all his books, Nobody's Fool is, by far, my favorite. And Sully, the main character, is, to my mind, an American hero. A beat u ...more
I've long said that I don't do well with "hilarious" novels, or the kind that states somewhere on a blurb on the cover of the book that it's the "funniest thing ever". I feel these books are trying to make me laugh and that's exhausting. "Whoops, was I supposed to laugh at that? Let me go back and see if it's funny... Nope, still barely made me crack a smiler." Books that feature characters that were written with the sole purpose of getting laughs, mean kind of laughs, at a character's expense. ...more
I know, I know. You've probably read Empire Falls already. But why not read this Russo classic from 1994? Russo perfectly captures the desolation of small towns that have always longed to be something more than they are. Towns that long for old days. You know, those times when manufacturing jobs were plentiful. When you worked at your great-grandfather's business on Main Street as a kid and then took it over when you became an adult. Hey, I don't remember these times, but Russo paints what is le ...more
I don't know exactly why I love Richard Russo so much (not true: I like him because his characters are granted senses of humor in almost direct proportion to their integrity), but while reading this I had that gluttonous "I love this book and can't stop reading it but wish I could keep reading it forever and that there were tons more RR novels that I could read when I'm through" feeling.

Anyway, we should all live in a world where the definition of a villain is someone with no sense of humor. If
Another good Russo study of a dying town in the N.E. corner of America and the cranky, yet more or less likable, people who live there. Even though the book was written 20 years ago, it feels timeless. Don't we all know a Sully--a 60 year old wise-cracking guy with a bad knee who gets involved in everything without taking actual responsibility? And his retired school teacher/landlady whose son has dollar signs in his eyes dreaming of the day he can sell her house for a nice profit? Middle-class ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Richard Russo is a god! Okay, well, maybe only a demigod, but he's a literary deity for sure. He's the only author I know of who can write a story where nothing much of anything happens and yet it's so enjoyable to read. He's created his own genre---"dying small towns in northeastern U.S." He creates the most vivid, real characters of any author I've read. He also has a sneaky, quirky sense of humor that I love.

Nobody's Fool centers on Sully, a sixty-year-old lovable ne'er-do-well who can never
In my mind, Russo is one of the best authors out there and this is one of his best books. It's something about the way he combines humor, real-life situations, unpretentious people, genuine empathy, and a plot to tie it together. Oh, and he writes really well, too.

Nobody's Fool has several of the best characters of all time. Sully is hard to beat as a likably flawed, smarter-than-he-seems survivor in a seemingly small world. This world matters plenty to the reader, though, crafted as it is by R
Joy H.
I enjoyed reading _Nobody's Fool_. As I was reading it, I couldn't help but picture Jack Nicholson playing the part of Sully. In fact, to me, the rascally Sully *was* Jack Nicholson. This idea popped into my mind, spontaneously and unbidden. In fact, I expected everyone who read the book to have the same idea. A short survey proved me wrong. That puzzled me because I was convinced that the choice of Nicholson would be obvious to everyone. So I was a bit disappointed when Paul Newman was chosen t ...more
Full of heart and humour.
Richard Russo's "Nobody's Fool" focuses on Donald "Sully" Sullivan, a man who has been making his own bull-headed way through life in fictional North Bath, NY for six decades. As the novel opens, Sully is entering a string of bad luck and worse decisions he terms one of his "stupid streaks," and he's working hard to ride it out.

It's not easy, however, as he's got a badly injured knee but can't collect disability, his landlady's son is scheming to get him evicted, his estranged son just showed up
Nobody’s Fool – Richard Russo

- (it) hadn’t been so much foolish as “visionary”, which, as everyone knew, was what you called a foolish idea that worked anyway. 8

- Somehow old people, once the revered repositories of the culture’s history and values, had become dusty museums of arcane and worthless information. 16

- We wear the chains we forge in life… 25

- ‘How will you know when you’ve died?’ – ‘I guess everything will stop being so goddamn much fun. 32

- …like most physical labor, there was a rhy
A few chapters into this book, I realized with joy that I had found a new author whose works I would enjoy tremendously. "Please let this not be his only book," I thought, and I was not disappointed.

Once again, I find that it is the characters, more than plot or writing style, that make this one of my favorite books. (The plot and style are great too, though.) Unusual, lovable, flawed, and most of all hilariously WITTY!

Maybe because it was my first Russo, this remains my favorite of his novels,
My second Russo book and it was even better than the Straight Man. I loved this book and really didn't want it to end. I am still in withdrawal, missing following the life of the main character, Sully, a 60 year old man trying to make ends meet in a very small town in northern New England.

This book takes place between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, but like Straight Man manages to cover an entire life through the device of reflecting back on one's life. The characters in this book are incredib
Mike Coleman
I read the last chapter of this novel carefully, savoring each word, not wanting it to end. Not wanting it to end badly, either. But Russo comes through. What a big, bawdy, satisfying book this is. Our protagonist is Don Sullivan, "Sully" to his friends, a 60-year-old ne'er-do-well handyman (played by Paul Newman in the movie, which I haven't seen) in a struggling, blue collar town in upstate New York. Sully drinks too much, takes too many pills slipped under the table by the local pharmacist to ...more
this book, along with russo's 'empire falls, is an unarguable classic of american literature...keepers of the canon take note...

it always amazes me when a writer can contain his entire thematic program for a novel in a single image...
chabon did it in 'wonder boys' with a tuba and russo does it here with a cherrystone clam...
this whole novel revolves around the image of a clam...
i freaking love that...
i guess that's my great love for symbolism at work...

an amazing book...
it's like an old friend t
The dialogs are negative, derogatory and filthy. Too many of the characters are pathetic loosers. Mind you, I am not one to say that people should be focused on monetary success over kindness to fellow human beings. I find the book extremely depressing and totally boring.

There is some humor, but it is negative too.

I have listened to six hours of twenty-four and have decided to give up. I only do that if I really detest a book. I recommend this book to no one.
I probably had a soft spot for this book even before reading it, because the film of the same name (starring Paul Newman as Sully) was filmed in my little hometown Beacon in upstate New York. Wonderful movie, wonderful book.

Russo can write. His prose is full of biting wit and clear-eyed development of tragically flawed yet sympathetic characters, such as the aforementioned Sully. And it rings true to my memory of the people I grew up with in that town. The retired 80 year old school teacher (8th
Note to self: Don't wait so long to post a review. Your addled brain will lose all cohesive thoughts.

I don't know of a writer more skillful in crafting characters. Russo's characters are practically beating hearts, cracking joints, and consciousness, trying to claw their way into our world. I grew to love the citizens of Bath, ME, as I would people I encounter in my daily life. Each one was complex, full of grace, bad judgement, annoying habits, and a mean streak-- either buried deep or right on
I'm ashamed to say, I couldn't get through this book. I loved Empire Falls! And yes, I still enjoy Richard Russo's writing, but in this book, nothing happened. Or if if did, it was sooooooo slow. It was really like watching grass grow.
So I got about halfway through the book and I reacted like the majority of people in this electronic age, where we require instant gratification. I went home and streamed the movie online. I usually never, ever do that because I tend to hate movies based on books
I've loved the other books by this author (Empire Falls and Bridge of Sighs), but this one really did not grab me. Like the others, it is set in a small, dying town in upstate NY. The cast of characters here was especially unlikable and I could NOT get into the story. Hence, it took me 6 weeks to finish this 550 page epic. It did get a bit better by the end, but not sure why I tortured myself so long.
I received both Nobody’s Fool and Empire Falls as gifts last Christmas. Having no familiarity with Russo, I read Empire Falls first, on the strength of its Pulitzer, an award that didn’t make much sense to me once I read the book. The writing was nice, but there wasn’t much action and I didn’t care for the ending. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the italicized flashback chapters (including the prologue), which seemed often to take away what little momentum had built up. So I wasn’t sure what to expe ...more
Nathan Wisnoski
As has been stated in other reviews, this novel is character-driven, and our protagonist Sully steals the show: he's funny, obscene, crass, undependable, and yet somehow likably charming. Luckily for us, Russo showcases his stellar dialogue by crafting a great set of supporting characters for Sully to interact with. There is a great deal of humor in this book, but occasionally these jokes fall flat (maybe Russo does this intentionally to demonstrate that Sully doesn't always have a perfect zinge ...more
Elizabeth Quinn
Here we go again -- another mash note about Richard Russo! I saw the movie version of Nobody's Fool years ago. In fact, I believe it's probably the first Russo story I'd ever "heard." Paul Newman did a great job as Sully, the main character, and I highly recommend the film. Because I'd seen the film, I put off reading the book, even though I'm a huge Russo fan. But once I'd finished everything else he'd written (except for a short story collection because I generally don't read short stories), I ...more
They say Einstein and Michelangelo are geniuses, and they are. So is Richard Russo. Geniuses come in categories. Einstein was a science/math genius; Michelangelo, a creative genius; and Russo, a social genius. Richard Russo picks up on the social nuances and minute detail in such a unique way that it is truly awesome. His characters are REAL, and his humor hits my funny bone. I am in total awe of this writer.

Sully is the main character. He is a 60-year-old hilariously funny loser, taking in odd
I started off a bit slow with this book, feeling that his initial setup and exposition of characters, setting, and plot seemed too reminiscent of the beginning of Empire Falls (I know he wrote this first; I read the other first – still, he begins each with an older man who faces decisions from his past that have led him here, a small town with a long-shot hope of redemption from without, the longed-for older female, the local bar/restaurant where the gossip happens…). But I sure do love Russo’s ...more

Richard Russo is often praised for his ability to capture the typical blue-collar town on paper, “to chronicle with insight and compassion the day-to-day life of small town America.” (Houston Chronicle) He does this in Nobody’s Fool by masterfully manipulating points of view to depict/expose his characters from the inside out. Donald Sullivan (Sully), Russo’s main character -- a sixty-year old man with a failing knee, commitment issues, pensions for both drinking and fighting, a heart of gold a
I'm not one who usually sees a movie and then goes back and reads the book, but what happened here was this: I first read Jennifer Finney Boylan's I'm Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted: A Memoir, an October pick (I tend to read anything having to do with haunting/paranormal in October). The book was so good, I hoofed it to the library to get a copy of Boylan's She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders, which was also amazing. That book contained an Afterword by Jennifer's longtime friend and ...more
Richard Russo, master craftsman, has once again looked into small town America and has shown us ourselves. Contrary to reviews that want to pigeonhole his writing based on its locale, Russo reminds us that the biggest of life's questions can be filtered just as well through the lens of a seemingly decision-challenged construction worker as through the lives of those in higher station.
As usual, the author delivers his wisdom through hilarious everyday actions, in this case through the sharp-tongu
Chris Gager
Starting tonight... Saw some of the movie on TV years ago. Great cast.
Day one... Poor Sully... if there's a bad decision to be made he makes it. This is apex realistic fiction. RR is a renowned purveyor of such along with favorites Alice Munro, Richard Ford, V.S. Naipaul, Alice McDermott, Grace Metalious, Richard Yates and Jonathan Franzen. And yet, of course, it's not really REAL. It's a story written in a style called realistic. Anyway, a few notes:
- North Bath the first summer resort? The Hom
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I just requested this book from the library 7 55 Feb 05, 2014 06:59AM  
What happened to Clive Jr.? 2 25 Apr 24, 2013 04:24PM  
Identify With Sully? 2 20 Nov 24, 2012 08:53AM  
Billerica Public ...: Nobody's Fool 1 10 Jun 21, 2012 07:38AM  
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Richard Russo (born July 15, 1949) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist. Born in Johnstown, New York, and raised in nearby Gloversville, he earned a B.A. (1967), a M.F.A. (1980), and a Ph.D. (1979) from the University of Arizona.

More about Richard Russo...
Empire Falls Straight Man Bridge of Sighs That Old Cape Magic Elsewhere

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“I'm about to fuck up, he thought clearly, and his next thought was, but I don't have to. This was followed closely by a third thought, the last of this familiar sequence, which was, but I'm going to anyway.” 13 likes
“It was a scary thought. A man could be surrounded by poetry reading and not know it.” 5 likes
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