Book Reviews


Published on 02/06/13



Richard Russo has been a favorite of mine for several years with novels such as Straight Man , Bridge of Sighs , and That Old Cape Magic . When his memoir, just out in 2012, was published, I ordered it and was not disappointed. Elsewhere paints a picture of his life that is a window on the characters and locations in the novels he has authored.

Gloversville, in upstate New York, was the town Russo grew up in and was famous for tanning leather and making leather products. It was not an easy life for those in the trade, but family and neighbors were closely knit. His father was charming, but not a family man and his mother always wanted more out of life, so they divorced, and Richard Russo was faced with a life of caring for his mother – always !

Gloversville came upon hard times in the 1950’s, as new machines and inventions for making leather products were introduced.

Richard’s mother was most anxious to try new territory and for awhile always had some kind of a job and was attractive to men. However she was a perfectionist and had an extremely nervous disposition that made it hard to live with and manage, but mother and son always loved each other and she lived close by in various towns even when Russo went to college and graduate school, married and fathered two daughters and was a professor and then an author. His wife, Barbara, was wonderful about it all, which is a miracle in itself!

The various moves around the country are often hilarious, heartbreaking, interesting and even comic. They are back and forth to Helwig street in Gloversville and eventually wind up in Boston, always keeping track of family and showcasing how his success as an author finally provided enough money to make it easier, but still complicated. This is a beautiful memoir, by a Pulitzer Prize winning author!

Published: By Alfred A. Knopf THIS IS A BORZOI BOOK New York, NY Copyright: © 2012 By Richard Russo Reviewed: 01/31/13 – 365 Copyright: © 2013 by Joan G. Smith 365