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Niagara Falls All Over Again

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,188 ratings  ·  187 reviews
By turns graceful and knowing, funny and moving, Niagara Falls All Over Again is the latest masterwork by National Book Award finalist and author of The Giant’s House, Elizabeth McCracken.

Spanning the waning years of vaudeville and the golden age of Hollywood, Niagara Falls All Over Again chronicles a flawed, passionate friendship over thirty years, weaving a powerful sto
Published (first published 2001)
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 ·  1,188 ratings  ·  187 reviews

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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
Jul 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice lite read to break up some of my more intense choices. McCracken brings the end of vaudeville and Hollywood's Golden Age to light in lovely detail. I don't often read about male friendships so that was also a treat for me.
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 an
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."
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up kinda hoping for a fiction version of Harpo Speaks or any number of other biographies I've read or meant to read on comedians from the golden age of Hollywood, and I must say, overall, it delivered.

Now, this will never be as brilliant as the real thing. It can't be. I'm well aware of the lives the real comedians of those times had. This is a great story though, and feels mostly authentic, name dropping when appropriate, but never to the point of riding on the talent associated w
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
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Phenomenal. I wasn't prepared for how much fun this would be. It's a deep dive into early 20th century entertainment culture, a Bildungsroman of a vaudevillian supporting role to a larger-than-life character. Mike Sharp was given big dreams by his sister but without means to pursue them: betraying his father's plans for his life, Mose stumbles around Minneapolis, unable to make an inroad into entertainment until Rocky Carter spots him. Plowing through sidekicks like facial tissues, Rocky sees in ...more
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!
Aug 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I admired this book, was impressed with the detail and the research and the author’s depiction of a male friendship throughout a lifetime....but I wish she’d had a stricter editor as there many repeats and slow moments which left me not willing to put it down, but wanting it to be over. As with BOWLAWAY, I admired it, but was not fully engaged.
Christina Kettmann
This book cast some kind of beautiful spell on me and I'm not mad about it at all. It's comic and tragic and realistic and charming as all get out. I feel the need to read every word written by this author now because she's a force.
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
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
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,
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 movies a
Emi Bevacqua
Nov 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Julie Huffman
Recommended to Emi by: Jeanne Niccolls
Shelves: fiction
Niagara Falls All Over Again was a total surprise to me. I thought it would be about upstate New York because of its title, but it was set mostly in Iowa and Hollywood. I didn't expect to like this book, because I wasn't a fan of The Giant's House, and also because this one is about Vaudeville and I've always hated slapstick, Three Stooges, Stan and Ollie, clowns, etc. But I really loved it!

Elizabeth McCracken has such a way with creating living breathing characters, she made this Vaudeville du
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
Jun 07, 2007 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
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.
Craig Pittman
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book was a delight from beginning to end, like hearing tales of old vaudeville from a veteran hoofer. My friend Connie Ogle recommended this book, and I'm glad I listened to her.

The story is told by one half of a famous comedy duo clearly modeled on Abbott & Costello, with a touch of Laurel & Hardy thrown in. Our narrator is Moses "Mike" Sharp, a Midwestern Jew who plays the straight man in the team of Clark & Sharp. The other half is Rocky Clark, an Irish polymath, who will do near
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
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never thought I would enjoy a novel set in Vaudeville, but McCracken's "An Exact Replica" was life-changing and so well written that I wanted to give this a shot. And I'm glad I did.

Mose Sharp knows loss and grief. His mother died when he was a child (as did six of her babies). His favorite sister died when Mose was a teenager, so he left home, unable to face the family store and a settled Iowan life without her.

Vaudeville in the 1920s and 30s - fascinating. McCracken ties the country's woes
This is the story of two vaudeville performers who become radio, movie, then TV stars. It is told by Mose, the straight man of the team. He relates his childhood, how he came to get involved in show business, how he met Rocky, the funny man of the team, and their relationship throughout their lives.

Well written, bittersweet book: lots of sadness, loss, and death.

It reads like an autobiography, even though it is fiction.

Good for people who are interested in show business, history of entertainme
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book because I had seen an author's interview with Elizabeth McCracken in the New York Times Book Review. I was not familiar with her. This book is very interesting, about a comedy team with its ups and downs and lots of interesting characters and family and life situations. The book is quite ambitious because it covers a wide range, temporal and geographic, and I felt that the character development was not deep enough. I did regret seeing the story come to an end and miss the p ...more
Judith Cohen
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book, but I'm not sure if my friends will agree. Maybe because it reminded me of The Amazing Adventures of Kavelier and Clay by Michael Chabon, being a description of a partnership between two comedians, or maybe because the protagonist grew up in a Jewish home in West Des Moines, IA, just a two hour drive from where I grew up in a Jewish home in Rock Island, IL, or maybe because it is well written and has an actual ending (something I find missing in many current novels), ...more
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book because I loved the Giant's House, also by this author. This is a longer, more complicated tale in terms of plot and number of characters. But it broke my heart almost as much. There's a Laurel and Hardy type partnership that goes through many challenges and changes. There are also siblings and marriages and births and deaths. I felt as if I lived with these characters and could see my own failings in each of them. I love the way this writer creates a compelling reality and let ...more
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.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the Goodreads database.

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 Figme

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