Jan 03, 09
Read in January, 2009
I put this one off for years, and that was a mistake. It's a terrific, readable trip into the small town America I love so well (from literature, from life). In facing his own tattered destiny, protagonist Miles Roby discovers that his present is linked to his hometown's past in some heartbreaking and unexpected ways. Turns out in the end, the power and control exerted by evil town matriarch Francine Whiting is what everyone seeks, in one way or another -- Miles over his future, Janine over her weight, Jimmy Minty over law+order, and on and on. Only after tragedy strikes can Miles leave town and finally return on his own terms to begin life as a free man.
With its wonderful, effortless style, Empire Falls reminded me of an important lesson: even behind the curtains of the most charming small towns lies suffering the likes of which I have never even imagined.