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Nobody's Fool
Richard Russo
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Nobody's Fool (Sully #1)

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,897 Ratings  ·  838 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 May 25th 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
Mar 18, 2016 Camie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My third read by Richard Russo, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Empire Falls, did not disappoint. Sully is 60, divorced, out of work, has a bum leg , and lives in his 8th grade teachers attic. This story about the bordering on foul mouthed, hard drinking, and slightly womanizing curmudgeon who is set among a quirky cast of characters living in a down and out town in upstate New York is told with a sharp wit and surprisingly enough is pretty darn heart-touching as well. Full of good intentio ...more
Michael O'Neill
Feb 22, 2013 Michael O'Neill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 18, 2013 El rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 13, 2007 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 07, 2007 Leighann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 07, 2007 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 16, 2016 Cheri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Donald Sullivan, Sully to his friends, has always been a bit of a go with the flow kind of guy, not really planning ahead, or pausing to think of the ramifications of some adventure. Regardless of the outcome, it takes a while for him to ponder a notion that would allow for his having made the wrong choice. He’s managed so far, but at sixty, he’s not managing quite as well as he used to, at least not physically. Divorced, with an occasional lady-friend who is married, a group of friends, the per ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Jan 17, 2016 Kasa Cotugno rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this book during an ill advised all nighter spent at Lagardia Airport. It kept me enthralled and removed me from my uncomfortable situation.
Nov 22, 2008 Bonnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
Full of heart and humour.
May 17, 2007 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Jun 10, 2016 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-literary
Nobody’s Fool (1993) is Richard Russo’s prequel to Everybody’s Fool (2016). It is set in Bath, NY, a faded mill town with an aging population and high unemployment. Bath is a typical American village, a riot of internal dissension in which important matters are vigorously debated. A prime example: the high school football team was recently renamed the Sabertooth Tigers, and letters to the paper’s editor show a spirited debate about whether the team should be referred to as the Sabertooths or the ...more
Jun 02, 2011 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Dec 10, 2009 Patdmac7 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Jun 22, 2010 Danika rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 08, 2016 Quo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nobody's Fool is a book I'd read previously many years ago for a book discussion group and decided to read again because it was chosen as the "One Book" to read by my village, with author Richard Russo coming to speak as a part of the launch for his just-released sequel, Everybody's Fool. And, as can sometimes be the case, my memory of the novel was mostly overridden by the film version with the likes of Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffiths, Philip Seymour Hoffman & ot ...more
Dick Reynolds
Jun 19, 2016 Dick Reynolds rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recently read a review in the New York Times of Russo’s latest book called Everybody’s Fool and learned it’s a sequel to this one. Having read three of Russo’s earlier novels, I ordered Nobody’s Fool immediately.
Originally published in 1993, Nobody’s Fool takes place about the same time in the upstate New York town of North Bath. The protagonist is Donald “Sully” Sullivan, a sixty-ish fellow who barely makes a living as an all-around handyman. He lives in a flat upstairs over his landlady, M
Oct 06, 2009 Eric rated it it was amazing
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
May 16, 2013 Mike Coleman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 17, 2008 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
I read this years ago but wanted to re-read in anticipation of Russo's publishing a follow up. I also suspected my memories of the book were being mixed up with memories of the movie. And it was fantastic ... as expected. I love how Russo writes. His prose just speaks to me. It's smart, funny, and real. Russo's characters come to life on the page. He tells the stories of small towns so realistically! Love this one!
Mary Lins
Apr 23, 2016 Mary Lins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: complete
Re-reading this WONDERFUL novel in preparation for "Everybody's Fool" coming out in May 2016!
May 14, 2016 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
It's been 7 years since I read this wonderful novel, too long ago to remember the characters and details of the story. Now there is a sequel, Everybody's Fool. So I need to read Nobody's Fool again to refresh my memory. I'm a big fan of Richard Russo.
May 14, 2015 Sharyl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've just finished my third Richard Russo book, which (surprise) I thoroughly enjoyed.

Now I'm supposed to tell you why I liked it so much, but I find that it's a hard thing to describe, since it's not at all a happy book. It does contain lots of humorous moments, which is one of Russo's stunning talents.

It takes place in Bath, New York, a depressed little town that once did a booming tourist trade as a resort area, but has since fallen into collective neglect and disrepair. Most of its inhabitan
Jun 04, 2010 Glee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Russo's behemoth of a novel doesn't go very far; a 550 page Winnebago endless circling the block. But it makes for an unforgettable journey, thanks largely to the cast of loveable rogues who are along for he ride. You wouldn't want to swap places with central character and rogue-in-chief Sully, but we'd all love to be a bit more like him. Independent, worldly-wise, irreverent, wise-cracking and generally unflappable stalwart of the town of North Bath, a town forever in the shadow of Schuyler Spr ...more
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What happened to Clive Jr.? 3 36 May 16, 2016 06:46AM  
I just requested this book from the library 7 58 Feb 05, 2014 06:59AM  
Identify With Sully? 2 22 Nov 24, 2012 08:53AM  
Billerica Public ...: Nobody's Fool 1 10 Jun 21, 2012 07:38AM  
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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 miniseries.
More about Richard Russo...

Other Books in the Series

Sully (2 books)
  • Everybody's Fool

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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.” 17 likes
“It was a scary thought. A man could be surrounded by poetry reading and not know it.” 7 likes
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