Wendy's Reviews > Empire Falls

Empire Falls by Richard Russo
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Apr 28, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: literary-fiction, pulitzer
Read in October, 2008

Arg! This book took me forever to read! Not a good sign. I'm not particularly fond of soap-operaesque books, but this one kept veering in that direction. Throughout the first 400 pages, the main character Miles is a passive doormat who allows his ensemble cast to scrape their boots on him. And all the adult women in this story are thoroughly unlikeable people. I did like Mile's witty, witheringly sarcastic daughter Tick (maybe she reminded me of me), but even then I almost put this book down. At long last when our meek main character finally (finally!) steps up and asserts himself I experienced a cathartic whoosh of satisfaction. I'm not sure the excruciatingly long set-up was worth the pay-off, but at least there was a pay-off. I still have some quibbles about how certain threads were wrapped up: there are so many characters that it's not really possible to have a "neat ending" without everything seeming *too* convenient...but when in real life do we have neatly packaged endings?

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