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Niagara Falls All Over Again

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  966 Ratings  ·  152 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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(showing 1-30 of 2,017)
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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
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
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
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
...more
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
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
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
Feb 01, 2013 Tracey rated it liked it
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
**** 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
Messicabridge
Jul 11, 2016 Messicabridge rated it liked it
I enjoyed this author's voice and there were a few really lovely sentences and passages, but overall I was unable to really get into this story. I got 3/4 of the way there and skimmed the rest. It's written in the first person, which usually is not a problem for me, but I never feel like I ever really got a hold of the main character. And for a book that is supposed to take place during the time between the end of the Vaudeville era and the beginning the cultural influences of movies , I wasn't ...more
Lynn
Sep 24, 2015 Lynn rated it liked it
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Harry
Apr 08, 2016 Harry rated it it was ok
This book started off great and I was excited to read it. I enjoyed the pretext and what I thought would be some backstage insights into vaudeville and comedy. There was some of that but it seemed to slow down more and more as the book progressed and the main character succeeded (sort of) while his partner failed. Their love for each other didn't seem well supported and their actions were depressing. By the end I was counting pages, not expecting anything to happen - which it didn't - and waitin ...more
Jeremy
Aug 20, 2015 Jeremy rated it really liked it
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
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
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
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
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
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
Lois Barliant
May 04, 2016 Lois Barliant rated it really liked it
How I wish you could give hedge the ratings with half a star because reading the book was both a pleasure and an emotional exercise of the best sort. The attachment I felt for the characters and my interest in their stories never waned. On the other hand, sometimes I felt like I was having to wade through really delightful sentences to get to a point that could have been made with fewer extended sentences and paragraphs, less description, and mulling the scenes. If a reader is the least bit inte ...more
Don Priest
Apr 21, 2016 Don Priest rated it did not like it
Incredibly boring, with a selfish, cowardly protagonist that I simply could not like. It's like the author was checking off a list of all the stereotypical Hollywood success stories: small town kid, stern father with plans for him, spends years scraping by, sudden fame and success, inevitable waning career and partnership fallout. His partner, Rocky Carter, is barely a person, more of a plot device. This was a book club selection, and only garnered a half hour of conversation. There's just not m ...more
Bill FromPA
Feb 14, 2015 Bill FromPA rated it liked it
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
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
Joanne
Feb 11, 2016 Joanne rated it liked it
Mose the straight man and Rocky the comic. Together an act, and friends, for decades. Life intervenes though in the form of loved and lost ones. Slow to start but by the middle, I cared about what happened to these guys and the people in their lives - they felt so real to me. And at the end, like life, it's not exactly neatly wrapped up - but that feels right too.
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
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.
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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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