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Niagara Falls All Over Again

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,058 Ratings  ·  168 Reviews
Born into a Jewish family in small-town Iowa, Mose Sharp couldn't leave home soon enough. By sixteen Mose had already joined the vaudeville circuit. But he knew one thing from the start: 'I needed a partner'. Then, an ebullient, self-destructive comedian named Rocky Carter came crashing into his life - and a thirty-year partnership was born. But as the comedy team of Carte ...more
Paperback, 308 pages
Published January 2nd 2003 by Vintage (first published 2001)
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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
May 05, 2008 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
Oct 11, 2011 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
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the "memoir" of Mose Sharp, a Jewish boy from Iowa who decides to make it big in Vaudeville. He struggles for a while but then he becomes the straight man to Rocky Carter, a loveable overweight comedian and the two of them eventually hit it big.

While Rocky is the more popular one and the more funny one, Mose is the one who strikes it big off screen, getting married and finding stability. As their careers hit ups and downs and tragedies come and go in their personal lives, the friendship
Feb 11, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just couldn’t finish it. I started this book, and while it was ok, it just wasn’t very compelling for me. I stopped to read another book for my book club which totally captivated me and I thought - why finish a book just to finish it when when there are so many more enjoyable books to read? If you liked the book, good for you! That’s really the purpose for reading, isn’t it? Read what you enjoy, let the others go, don’t judge someone else’s taste!
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
Jul 21, 2010 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
Nov 07, 2007 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
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 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
Sep 06, 2010 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
Feb 01, 2014 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
Christie Ward
Apr 27, 2010 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."
Jan 02, 2009 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.
Jun 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Margaret Carmel
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not mindblowningly inventive or especially magical, but I had a great time reading it and it had a lot of touching moments. Glad I discovered it.

Niagara Falls All Over Again is about fictional comedy duo Carter and Sharp. The story is narrated by Mose Sharp---the "straight man" in the entertaining partnership--- who takes the reader from the days of vaudeville to Hollywood, radio, TV and their washed up years. Although this is about show business, it's more about Rocky Carter and M
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This a story for the sake of a story, nothing transcendent or meaningful or redemptive. While this book is ultimately a story of friendship, it was not a relationship that mattered for me. The characters were so self-absorbed lacking in self-reflection, just really uninteresting. The story felt like a retread that wasn't that interesting to begin with. While the book follows the development of 20th century America, it lacked any real insight or emotional connection.
Pat Wahler
This story is told by the "straight man" of a comedy duo, from their start in vaudeville to Hollywood fame. I suspect these characters are drawn from a mix of real comics from the early years of entertainment. The author mixed in bits of humor and sprinkled her story with familiar Hollywood names.

I have mixed feelings about the story. Parts of it were superb, other parts didn't appeal to me much. The book received numerous literary kudos, so my opinion might be among the minority.
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is actually 4 and a half stars. I never thought I'd be interested in the back story of a vaudeville duo, but man was I invested in these guys. Every minor character was so richly drawn I would read spin off stories about all of them. Despite some middling parts at the very beginning, this had me from beginning to end
Jun 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a surprising delight. Elizabeth McCracken effectively conjures the intensity and complexity of relationships (not necessarily romantic) without feeling cloying or condescending. Her characters have a substance and density to them that seems rare in fiction.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For me the subject matter was decidedly odd, being about an American comedy duo who worked their way through vaudeville, film, radio and TV. They were funny men, the book is not. But it was a brilliant read for me. Another of those books that sat on the shelf for far too long.
Kristen Schrader (Wenke)
Well-written, but not my type of book. Slow.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I loved The Giant's House, so I was excited to read something else by Elizabeth McCracken. But this underwhelmed me. It had the potential of being s theater version of kavalier & clay (a personal favorite), but fell short.
Derek Emerson
Dec 01, 2012 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, 2010 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
Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan Katz
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very engaging. Really enjoyed.
Feb 26, 2008 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,
Jan 10, 2009 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.

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
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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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