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Niagara Falls All Over Again

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  977 Ratings  ·  154 Reviews
Elizabeth McCracken seems to specialize in unlikely romance. Her charmingly quirky debut, The Giant's House, was the story of a librarian's passion for the world's tallest boy. The equally inventive Niagara Falls All Over Again is the story of a vaudevillian's love for the one person he can't be without--his partner in comedic crime:
You try to recall your wedding day, an
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 7th 2001 by The Dial Press (first published 2001)
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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
Nov 07, 2007 Felix rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 07, 2009 Jeana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Jenna  Wolfstone
Mar 17, 2008 Jenna Wolfstone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 25, 2008 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 02, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 08, 2009 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Feb 25, 2009 Shelah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 03, 2010 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Christie Ward
Apr 27, 2010 Christie Ward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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."
Jul 22, 2010 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 06, 2010 Amy 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
Sep 14, 2010 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rebecca Labbe
Nov 24, 2010 Rebecca Labbe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 28, 2010 Leslie rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 19, 2016 SaraR rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a huge fan of the vaudeville comedy, etc., but this book surpassed that. It was beautiful and chaotic and with characters I will not soon forget. Definitely worth a read. Definitely.
Aug 12, 2015 Jamie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Oct 01, 2012 Jinksb rated it really liked it
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
Derek Emerson
Jan 01, 2013 Derek Emerson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 03, 2013 Kathy rated it it was ok
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
Aug 08, 2013 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 07, 2014 Kalen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
**** 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
Jan 23, 2015 Cathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
I really enjoyed this book. It's a longer read than I expected from the number of pages, due to the small typeface, and I flagged a little around a third to half way, but I think that was almost certainly me rather than the book.

For me there were two distinct strands that I loved within this story: that of the progression of one man's career thru end of vaudeville, the Golden Age of Hollywood, and a finally into the young upstart world of TV; and his relationships with the family and friends aro
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
Sep 24, 2015 Lynn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lois Barliant
May 04, 2016 Lois Barliant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 07, 2016 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to get into this novel, during which time I came close to abandoning the effort. But it was worth it--by the end I was very engaged. Subject matter is fascinating and the characters are good, although not especially likeable. Two quibbles--at times the author indulges in overwriting, saying what could be said in a sentence in a couple of paragraphs. Secondly, there isn't much story. The book reads as a memoir or autobiography, so the plot is basically one man's life. That lack ...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...

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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.” 3 likes
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