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Niagara Falls All Over Again

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  857 ratings  ·  131 reviews
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 g ...more
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published 2001 by Dial Press
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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  Hay
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
Oct 28, 2011 Jamie rated it 3 of 5 stars
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 Cavalier and Clay," it is the covers pulled off a creative collaboration and friendship between two talented men. In the manner of "Freedom" it i
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
**** 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
Christie Ward
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."
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.
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
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.

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,
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Derek Emerson
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
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.
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
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.
Nancy Kackley
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.
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
Audiobook. I was looking for Elizabeth McCracken's novel The Giant's House and found this one instead. I am so glad I did. George Guidall narrates the story, which is told from the perspective of an aging vaudevillian turned successful comedian, the straight man half of the famous comedy team Carter and Sharp. Mose Sharp, now an elderly man, recalls the events of his life. McCracken captures the voices of her characters--and of the time period--so well. The narrative never seems false or stagey; ...more
Susan  Odetta
This is the second book by this author for me. The first was a love story about a giant and the woman who loved him. This is about the lives of a 2-man vaudeville comedy act. Also a love story. Not as compelling as the one about the giant. The author writes beautifully and about the lives of quirky people. And aren't we all a bit quirky when it comes right down to it?
Why did I read this book??? Because it has Niagara Falls in the title, because the author is good friends with Ann Patchett, and because I renewed it from the library 23 times. I have never liked comedy teams where one partner is smart and one (or more) is stupid and keeps getting hit over the head. So I should have stopped reading as soon as I realized that I wasn't enjoying myself. But I did like one joke near the end, where one aging comedian residing in Hollywood says: "Outside, I drive arou ...more
Jun 06, 2008 Jenny rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: movie lovers, admirers of good fiction
One of my all time favorite books. I've listened to the recorded version twice and own a copy, so I know I will again. It's a fictional story of a comedy team, Carter and Sharp (in the vein of Abbottt and Costello or Laurel & Hardy)written as a memoir by the straight man, Mose Sharp. McCracken knows her stuff - she throws in references to lots of comedy performers of the time, from the famous (Chaplin) to the obscure (Clark & McCullough.) George Guidall's narration felt like he was telli ...more
Rebecca Labbe
This is a magnificently written book that I just finished reading for the second time. It's like a roman a clef and a bromance all rolled into one. The lives of the characters are so beautifully and vividly portrayed that you'll feel like you lived through all three decades of the book with them.

Elizabeth McCracken is one of this country's most overlooked and underrated authors. She's the author of "The Giant's House," which everyone should be forced to read under penalty of law, and this book
I picked this up as a "bargain book," having never read this author. The story is of a comedy team: Mose Sharp, the straight man, who'd always wanted to be an entertainer despite growing up in a small town in Iowa, and Rocky Carter, the big man with the big personality, who takes on young Mose as his partner. The team lasts for years through personal and professional ups and downs. There's a lot of humor, of course, but much of it comes from Mose's dry wit and insights as he narrates. And there ...more
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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
More about Elizabeth McCracken...
The Giant's House An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination Thunderstruck & Other Stories Here's Your Hat What's Your Hurry Something Amazing - short story in Zoetrope: All-Story, Spring 2008

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“The cure for unhappiness is happiness,
I don't care what anyone says.”
“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.” 2 likes
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