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Nobody's Fool

(Sully #1)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  26,071 ratings  ·  2,012 reviews
Richard Russo's slyly funny and moving novel follows the unexpected operation of grace in a deadbeat town in upstate New York—and in the life of one of its unluckiest citizens, Sully, who has been doing the wrong thing triumphantly for fifty years.

Divorced from his own wife and carrying on halfheartedly with another man's, saddled with a bum knee and friends who make enemi
Paperback, 549 pages
Published April 12th 1994 by Vintage (first published May 25th 1993)
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Luke S It is practically non-stop sex and profanity from the get-go. You gotta check it out!!
Chad Yes. I really like the movie but I have not read the book. One of my favorite scenes is the one where the son confronts his father for being nicer to …moreYes. I really like the movie but I have not read the book. One of my favorite scenes is the one where the son confronts his father for being nicer to his grandson then he ever was to him. The father replies, "Well, you gotta start somewhere." I have used this advice -- start somewhere, start small, watch it grow.(less)

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Michael Finocchiaro
Richard Russo is an extraordinary storyteller. I loved Nobody's Fool just a shade less than Empire Falls, although I liked Sully more than Miles. I think Empire Falls was a little more subtle, but Nobody's Fool still has some amazing writing. I enjoyed North Bath (and its nemesis Schuyler Springs, NY) nearly as much as Empire Falls, ME. There were a lot of similarities between the two books, the rundown New England towns, and the characters - what holds everything together is Russo's incredible ...more
Richard (on hiatus)
North Bath is a small, unexceptional town living in the shadow of its larger more successful neighbour Schuyler Springs in upstate New York. Its fading latter day grandeur is bypassed by new freeways, forever taking people elsewhere - a backwater who’s economic hopes are pinned to the proposed development of a large theme park.
Nobody’s fool does have a sense of a changing America, the march of the new and the fickle nature of big business but the novel is much more concerned with the characters
The main character of this book, Donald ‘Sully’ Sullivan, is a routinely careless man who left his wife and had almost nothing to do with raising his son. He’s had an affair with a married woman for twenty years, and he’s lusting after yet another man’s wife. Sully also drinks and gambles on a near daily basis. At one point in this book he pimp slaps a woman, and there's another part in which he engages in an act that probably meets the legal definition of animal cruelty.

Sounds like a real bast
Andrew Smith
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m fascinated by the idea of small town America. I’ve never experienced it in person, just read about it in books or seen it depicted in films and television programmes. The concept seems just so different to any English town I can think of, all of which seem too close to their nearly identical neighbour to offer up anything but another homogeneous collection of chain stores, Costa Coffee shops and charity outlets.

Ok, I’m probably being a little harsh on small towns in my own country here, or
4.5 Stars - Sometimes funny.......Sometimes Sad.......Sometimes even made me mad!

NOBODY'S FOOL is a story about nothing really.......just every day life in a small failing town with unusual and addictive characters, each with their own problems and unorthodox ways.

A flawed 60 year old Donald Sullivan, (Sully) with his sarcastic mouth and bum knee lead the reader on a memorable and often humorous ride through some of the unluckiest days of his life (which is most of them) while his big heart and

Michael O'Neill
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I listened to Nobody's Fool while driving a rented moving van across country and regretted only that I was by myself and had no one else to laugh with, cry with, commiserate with, or just plain hug when it ended. I've read a few of Richard Russo's books and I don't understand why he doesn't have a statue on the National Mall. Must be only because he is still alive. Of all his books, Nobody's Fool is, by far, my favorite. And Sully, the main character, is, to my mind, an American hero. A beat up ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Throughout his life a case study of underachiever, Sully - people still remarked - was nobody's fool, a phrase that Sully no doubt appreciated without ever sensing its literal application - that at sixty, he was divorced from his own wife, carrying on halfheartedly with another man's, estranged from his son, devoid of self-knowledge, badly crippled and virtually unemployable - all of which he stubbornly confused with independence.

Donald Sullivan believes that if he keeps his head down, travels
‘Hurrying isn’t what I do best, at least first thing in the morning,’ Sully reminded her, putting some weight on the knee, which belted out a hearty hello.”

A new favourite! Well, new to me, not to the Pulitzer Prize people and the millions of readers around the world. Sometimes, the Pulitzer gets it right. :)

Anyone with a banged-up knee will instantly understand the significance of the “hearty hello” that starts the day. Donald Sullivan, Sully, is a banged-up, 60-year-old labourer who’s supp
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My third read by Richard Russo, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Empire Falls, did not disappoint. Sully is 60, divorced, out of work, has a bum leg , and lives in his 8th grade teachers attic. This story about the bordering on foul mouthed, hard drinking, and slightly womanizing curmudgeon who is set among a quirky cast of characters living in a down and out town in upstate New York is told with a sharp wit and surprisingly enough is pretty darn heart-touching as well. Full of good intentio ...more
The blurb:
Richard Russo's slyly funny and moving novel follows the unexpected operation of grace in a deadbeat town in upstate New York—and in the life of one of its unluckiest citizens, Sully, who has been doing the wrong thing triumphantly for fifty years.

Divorced from his own wife and carrying on halfheartedly with another man's, saddled with a bum knee and friends who make enemies redundant, Sully now has one new problem to cope with: a long-estranged son who is in imminent danger of foll
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Donald Sullivan, Sully to his friends, has always been a bit of a go with the flow kind of guy, not really planning ahead, or pausing to think of the ramifications of some adventure. Regardless of the outcome, it takes a while for him to ponder a notion that would allow for his having made the wrong choice. He’s managed so far, but at sixty, he’s not managing quite as well as he used to, at least not physically. Divorced, with an occasional lady-friend who is married, a group of friends, the per ...more
“Throughout his life a case study underachiever, Sully - people still remarked - was nobody’s fool, a phrase that Sully no doubt appreciated without ever sensing its
literal application - that at sixty, he was divorced from his own wife, carrying on halfheartedly with another man’s, estranged from his son, devoid of self-knowledge, badly crippled and virtually unemployable - all of which he stubbornly confused with independence.”

Meet enigmatic Donald “Sully” Sullivan, lifelong resident of the sma
Mark Porton
Well, it was kinda good while it lasted, but I'm really glad it's all over

Richard Russo's, Nobody's Fool was too long by half. For sure, he writes a rich, detailed, character based story well enough - he creates the sense of place well enough too - and there's even a couple of laughs. But for me it was just TOO LOOOONG and too detailed - it really, for me, was a story of nothing much at all. You know how you can watch a drama series on television and then take a break and come back to it, only
Jul 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
In my mind, Russo is one of the best authors out there and this is one of his best books. It's something about the way he combines humor, real-life situations, unpretentious people, genuine empathy, and a plot to tie it together. Oh, and he writes really well, too.

Nobody's Fool has several of the best characters of all time. Sully is hard to beat as a likably flawed, smarter-than-he-seems survivor in a seemingly small world. This world matters plenty to the reader, though, crafted as it is by R
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've long said that I don't do well with "hilarious" novels, or the kind that states somewhere on a blurb on the cover of the book that it's the "funniest thing ever". I feel these books are trying to make me laugh and that's exhausting. "Whoops, was I supposed to laugh at that? Let me go back and see if it's funny... Nope, still barely made me crack a smiler." Books that feature characters that were written with the sole purpose of getting laughs, mean kind of laughs, at a character's expense. ...more
Feb 18, 2017 rated it liked it
This is interesting, I have five likes, and I haven't finished reading the book, nor have I made any comments on it. I think that some people like that I am reading this most boring, interesting, and somewhat raunchy book. Every day I pick it up and try to make myself read 20 pages. Sometimes they give me a chuckle, other times my mind floats away, and the book is great for going to bed and falling to sleep easily, but then you forget what you have read.

My husband was a construction worker like
May 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I don't know exactly why I love Richard Russo so much (not true: I like him because his characters are granted senses of humor in almost direct proportion to their integrity), but while reading this I had that gluttonous "I love this book and can't stop reading it but wish I could keep reading it forever and that there were tons more RR novels that I could read when I'm through" feeling.

Anyway, we should all live in a world where the definition of a villain is someone with no sense of humor. If
Paul Lockman
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-favourites
Loved it. I just felt I was right there in the 1980s in North Bath, upstate New York, with Sully and all the other characters, perhaps sitting on a stool having a drink in the only bar in town The Horse, watching the goings-on, taking it all in and having a chuckle. Richard Russo has created a memorable character in Sully, a man full of wit, at times quite caustic, basically someone with no ambition and goals but who manages to charm many people he comes in contact with and somehow Sully gets by ...more
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
Richard Russo is a god! Okay, well, maybe only a demigod, but he's a literary deity for sure. He's the only author I know of who can write a story where nothing much of anything happens and yet it's so enjoyable to read. He's created his own genre---"dying small towns in northeastern U.S." He creates the most vivid, real characters of any author I've read. He also has a sneaky, quirky sense of humor that I love.

Nobody's Fool centers on Sully, a sixty-year-old lovable ne'er-do-well who can never
Jul 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
I know, I know. You've probably read Empire Falls already. But why not read this Russo classic from 1994? Russo perfectly captures the desolation of small towns that have always longed to be something more than they are. Towns that long for old days. You know, those times when manufacturing jobs were plentiful. When you worked at your great-grandfather's business on Main Street as a kid and then took it over when you became an adult. Hey, I don't remember these times, but Russo paints what is le ...more
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
The adventures of Sully and the cast of characters in Bath, NY make this a magnificent novel from writing genius Richard Russo. A superb story, and the film version starring Paul Newman is outstanding as well. I watch it every year.
Nobody's Fool is a book I'd read previously many years ago for a book discussion group and decided to read again because it was chosen as the "One Book" to read by my village, with author Richard Russo coming to speak as a part of the launch for his just-released sequel, Everybody's Fool. And, as can sometimes be the case, my memory of the novel was mostly overridden by the film version with the likes of Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffiths, Philip Seymour Hoffman & others ...more
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
Interesting, fairly well written with well drawn characters, often very funny. And, I almost hated this novel by the end. The one saving grace was the wonderful Miss Beryl, a sharp-witted, cantankerous 80-year-old widow: would that she'd been the main character!

No such luck: the protagonist is Sully, a perpetually down-on-his-luck sixty-year-old loser of a divorcee who's spent his whole life evading any and all responsibility to anyone; nursing grudges, especially against his dead, abusive dad a
Jun 27, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
DNF at 9.5-hours of listening, half-way through. I hoped I would like this better than I did. I enjoyed some of the writing and the narration is spot-on. However, I could do without some of the unnecessary details that prolonged some subjects and increased my discomfort. As I type this, I am thinking especially of the dog that had a parasite. Some things are just very hard to un-imagine! It was at this point that I decided to take a break.
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Another good Russo study of a dying town in the N.E. corner of America and the cranky, yet more or less likable, people who live there. Even though the book was written 20 years ago, it feels timeless. Don't we all know a Sully--a 60 year old wise-cracking guy with a bad knee who gets involved in everything without taking actual responsibility? And his retired school teacher/landlady whose son has dollar signs in his eyes dreaming of the day he can sell her house for a nice profit? Middle-class ...more
Dec 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
I've loved the other books by this author (Empire Falls and Bridge of Sighs), but this one really did not grab me. Like the others, it is set in a small, dying town in upstate NY. The cast of characters here was especially unlikable and I could NOT get into the story. Hence, it took me 6 weeks to finish this 550 page epic. It did get a bit better by the end, but not sure why I tortured myself so long. ...more
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I didn't find this to be quite as compelling as Empire Falls was, but it was damn close.

Ron McClarty narrated Nobody's Fool, (as he did Empire Falls), and I ADORE this man's voice.

I will be looking for more works from both of these gentlemen.
Joy D
“Maybe Sully’s young philosophy professor at the college had been right. Maybe free will was just something you thought you had. Maybe Sully’s sitting there trying to figure out what he should do next was silly. Maybe there was no way out of this latest fix he’d gotten himself into. Maybe even the trump card he’d been saving, or imagined he was saving, wasn’t in his hand at all. … Still, Sully felt the theory to be wrong. It made everything slack. He’d never considered life to be as tight as
The dialogs are negative, derogatory and filthy. Too many of the characters are pathetic loosers. Mind you, I am not one to say that people should be focused on monetary success over kindness to fellow human beings. I find the book extremely depressing and totally boring.

There is some humor, but it is negative too.

I have listened to six hours of twenty-four and have decided to give up. I only do that if I really detest a book. I recommend this book to no one.
May 10, 2017 added it
Shelves: dnf
Third time's a charm, right?


This is my third attempt at this and this time I made it to 109 pages.
I'm finding it very boring and a chore to get through so once and for all, I'm out.
Nowhere close to the excellence of Empire Falls, in my so humble opinion.
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Play Book Tag: Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo - 3 stars 1 10 Mar 01, 2019 07:02PM  

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RICHARD RUSSO is the author of seven previous novels; two collections of stories; and Elsewhere, a memoir. In 2002 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls, which like Nobody’s Fool was adapted to film, in a multiple-award-winning HBO miniseries.

Other books in the series

Sully (2 books)
  • Everybody's Fool (Sully #2)

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