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Nobody's Fool (Sully #1)

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4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  19,648 Ratings  ·  1,412 Reviews
Richard Russo's slyly funny and moving novel follows the unexpected operation of grace in a deadbeat town in upstate New York—and in the life of one of its unluckiest citizens, Sully, who has been doing the wrong thing triumphantly for fifty years.

Divorced from his own wife and carrying on halfheartedly with another man's, saddled with a bum knee and friends who make enemi
...more
Paperback, 549 pages
Published April 12th 1994 by Vintage (first published May 25th 1993)
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Luke Sweeney It is practically non-stop sex and profanity from the get-go. You gotta check it out!!
Micklemas No. It bizarrely mentions a couple of people's love of Ronald Reagan as president which threw me in a loop, since I assumed this was set in the early…moreNo. It bizarrely mentions a couple of people's love of Ronald Reagan as president which threw me in a loop, since I assumed this was set in the early 90s.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Michael Finocchiaro
Richard Russo is an extraordinary storyteller. I loved Nobody's Fool just a shade less than Empire Falls, although I liked Sully more than Miles. I think Empire Falls was a little more subtle, but Nobody's Fool still has some amazing writing. I enjoyed North Bath (and its nemesis Schuyler Springs, NY) nearly as much as Empire Falls, ME. There were a lot of similarities between the two books, the rundown New England towns, and the characters - what holds everything together is Russo's incredible ...more
Kemper
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
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Carol
4.5 Stars - Sometimes funny.......Sometimes Sad.......Sometimes even made me mad!

NOBODY'S FOOL is a story about nothing really.......just every day life in a small failing town with unusual and addictive characters, each with their own problems and unorthodox ways.

A flawed 60 year old Donald Sullivan, (Sully) with his sarcastic mouth and bum knee lead the reader on a memorable and often humorous ride through some of the unluckiest days of his life (which is most of them) while his big heart and

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Andrew Smith
Jan 19, 2017 Andrew Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m fascinated by the idea of small town America. I’ve never experienced it in person, just read about it in books or seen it depicted in films and television programmes. The concept seems just so different to any English town I can think of, all of which seem too close to their nearly identical neighbour to offer up anything but another homogeneous collection of chain stores, Costa Coffee shops and charity outlets.

Ok, I’m probably being a little harsh on small towns in my own country here, or
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Algernon
Feb 23, 2017 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2017
Throughout his life a case study of underachiever, Sully - people still remarked - was nobody's fool, a phrase that Sully no doubt appreciated without ever sensing its literal application - that at sixty, he was divorced from his own wife, carrying on halfheartedly with another man's, estranged from his son, devoid of self-knowledge, badly crippled and virtually unemployable - all of which he stubbornly confused with independence.

Donald Sullivan believes that if he keeps his head down, travels
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Michael O'Neill
Feb 16, 2013 Michael O'Neill rated it it was amazing
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
Camie
Jan 11, 2014 Camie rated it it was amazing
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
Margitte
The blurb:
Richard Russo's slyly funny and moving novel follows the unexpected operation of grace in a deadbeat town in upstate New York—and in the life of one of its unluckiest citizens, Sully, who has been doing the wrong thing triumphantly for fifty years.

Divorced from his own wife and carrying on halfheartedly with another man's, saddled with a bum knee and friends who make enemies redundant, Sully now has one new problem to cope with: a long-estranged son who is in imminent danger of follow
...more
Cheri
Apr 07, 2013 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
Anna
May 13, 2007 Anna rated it it was amazing
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
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El
Feb 18, 2013 El rated it it was amazing
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
Steve
Jul 30, 2007 Steve rated it it was amazing
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
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Jessaka
This is interesting, I have five likes, and I haven't finished reading the book, nor have I made any comments on it. I think that some people like that I am reading this most boring, interesting, and somewhat raunchy book. Every day I pick it up and try to make myself read 20 pages. Sometimes they give me a chuckle, other times my mind floats away, and the book is great for going to bed and falling to sleep easily, but then you forget what you have read.

My husband was a construction worker like
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Leighann
Jul 07, 2007 Leighann rated it really liked it
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
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
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☮Karen
Apr 01, 2015 ☮Karen rated it really liked it
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
Char
Jun 22, 2017 Char rated it really liked it
I didn't find this to be quite as compelling as Empire Falls was, but it was damn close.

Ron McClarty narrated Nobody's Fool, (as he did Empire Falls), and I ADORE this man's voice.

I will be looking for more works from both of these gentlemen.
Danika
Dec 13, 2009 Danika rated it it was ok
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.
Fred Forbes
May 31, 2016 Fred Forbes rated it it was amazing
I came across an item on the book "Everybody's Fool" and found it is a sequel to "Nobody's Fool" and fortunately, Costco had that on the table as well. It has been a long time since I read "Empire Falls" which won the Pulitzer but I remembered from that book, set in a similar place that the book is long on character, short on plot. Life, in other words. I need to be in a certain mood for that type of tome so picked up and dove into this one.

Anyone who has grown up or spent time in a small Northe
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Kate
Feb 14, 2017 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-books, 2017-tbr
This was a reread for me and I first read it when it was published. It was a favorite then and remains a favorite. I so enjoyed the 10 days I spent with Sully and friends (and enemies) in the fictional town of North Bath. Richard Russo writes beautifully about small town life and its issues. Sully is a partially abled 60 year old, stubborn and sometimes mean, who lives with his series of questionable choices. He has a strong personal moral code which at times confounds his friends with how diffi ...more
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
JoAnn
May 20, 2016 JoAnn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 / 5 stars overall
5 stars for the audio production

Nobody tells a story like Richard Russo. Set in rural upstate NY in the 1980s, this IS small-town blue-collar life, with all the rough edges and political incorrectness. I loved every page of this book and will read the sequel, Everybody's Fool soon. The audiobook, narrated by Ron McLarty, is my favorite so far this year.
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.
Shawn Mooney
Sep 30, 2016 Shawn Mooney rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Interesting, fairly well written with well drawn characters, often very funny. And, I almost hated this novel by the end. The one saving grace was the wonderful Miss Beryl, a sharp-witted, cantankerous 80-year-old widow: would that she'd been the main character!

No such luck: the protagonist is Sully, a perpetually down-on-his-luck sixty-year-old loser of a divorcee who's spent his whole life evading any and all responsibility to anyone; nursing grudges, especially against his dead, abusive dad a
...more
Chrissie
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.
Jaclyn Crupi
Feb 04, 2017 Jaclyn Crupi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Damn it was good to be back in North Bank with Sully and co. A re-read before I jump into Everybody's Fool. Russo is so good at capturing small town USA. This book is more problematic than I remember it being when I first read it but overall it's a joy to read.
Bonnie
Nov 22, 2008 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed-books
Full of heart and humour.
Quo
May 10, 2016 Quo rated it really liked it
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
Ginger Bensman
Nobody’s Fool is a quiet, funny, sly book that both entertains and touches the reader’s heart, at least it touched mine. I read this book to my husband a chapter or two at a time in the evenings, and oh, didn’t we look forward to spending our hour with the citizens of small town, economically crumbling, and ever hopeful Bath, New York. Richard Russo’s characters are drawn with such skill and grace, I couldn’t help but love and root for every single one of them. I don’t believe there’s a writer o ...more
Laura
May 17, 2007 Laura rated it it was amazing
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,
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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 (Sully, #2)

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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.” 22 likes
“It was a scary thought. A man could be surrounded by poetry reading and not know it.” 10 likes
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