Have you ever had one of those books that you just read, and read, and read, and read and never seemed to come to the end of it? Well, my book #29 was one of those books. It was actually a pretty good book, but it was one that I started in FEBRUARY, when my mom broke her hip and was in the hospital. I read it sitting with her at rehab, it got pushed aside for book club books, I read it during Fran's chemotherapy, it got pushed aside for work.....
So finally, last night, I finished it! I felt like cheering!
#29: Nobody's Fool by Ruchard Russo. We read Russo's Empire Falls in my book club a couple of years ago. And then later I read his novel Straight Man, which made me laugh out loud during jury duty. (And made everyone stare at me--but maybe that kept me off a jury. Who wants to empanel a women who laughs and snorts to herself?) While I liked EF and SM better than this one, it is still a strong book.
The main character is Donald Sullivan ("Sully"), a sixty year old guy with a bum knee. He's the kind of guy who will drive you crazy--to much "ne'er do well" to depend on, too charming to dislike. He's left behind a raft of broken relationships, most notably an ex-wife who can't stand him (theoretically) and a son he ignored while he was growing up. Sully works, and lives, in a hand to mouth way, with no plan for the future--a future which is catching up with him fast.
The characters in the novel are the point. Russo has an eye for small town America--in some ways he is the East Coast equivalent of Jon Hassler. But he lack Hassler's basic optimism and faith. Bath (the town in Nobody's Fool) is a darker place than Hassler's Staggerford. But they share the same feeling for the quirkiness of human life. We look at their characters and think, "Yeah, she's odd. But not so different from my aunt......" Russo is also more earthy, shall we say. His characters are no saints.
But almost all his characters are well drawn and multifaceted. The sinners can also turn and do the right thing. And there is hope for redemption. And that redemption comes through love.
A book that's worth the read.
And I've not seen the movie made from the novel. But I will say that the casting of Paul Newman as Sully seems like a spot on decision. He fits perfectly with my vision of the character.
This takes another book off my Summer Reading Challenge. 9 down, 3 to go. Last night I started Rumer Godden's An Episode of Sparrows.