Monday, October 8, 2007

Empire Falls

Book: Empire Falls
Author: Richard Russo
Like/Don't Like: Like!

I find that I can't stop thinking about this book. I loved it. Kudos to the Pulitzer people for giving it their little prize.

It was a completely satisfying book. The type that reminds you why you spent years of your childhood reading when you could have been not failing geometry. It had the three most important qualities that I look for in a book: pacing, character, and story. I never wanted to put it down. It kept slowly uncovering pieces of the story and giving you just enough to satisfy the edge but keep you wanting more.

And remember how I complained about Love Walked In being chopped up by the perspective switch and asked if anyone had read a book that did this well? Who would have thought that the very next book I read would be the one. There were at least a dozen characters who each got a turn. Because the story dealt with the entire town of Empire Falls it was best told this way, but it flowed beautifully. The minute you wondered what was happening with another character it would switch over to them.

It was an easy book to read in that it was so nicely put together but I struggled with a few parts. Some of the characters were disturbing and I found myself skimming through a lot of their chapters because I couldn't handle the stench of them, and all the swearing (I'm sensitive, alright!). And it had some very tragic scenes. One in particular. I'm welling up thinking about it. When I read I'm usually slow to cry. This is not to say that I don't cry at books. I cry at almost every book. It's just that sometimes it takes a minute or two for things to set in. But not with this. This was a burst of tears that came before the sentence even ended and was so bad that I couldn't see the page to read for about 5 minutes. You have been warned.

I also had issue with how God was handled in it. I love it when characters discuss their belief or lack of belief in God, especially when their ideas differ from each other. But everyone in the book seemed to have the exact same idea of Him, that he was a pretty handy fellow to have around, either to blame for your misfortunes, accuse of unfairness, or to help justify your actions. I suppose that's how most people treat God, but it seemed a little too convenient that everyone, including the priest, felt the same way.

Oh, and I'm giving negative points for overuse of the word intuit.

But really, I can't complain over these things when everything else about the book made me want to hug it. There wasn't a single point in the book where I wanted it to end and I didn't roll my eyes once. High praise.


Liz said...

Oh good! You know I bought it, but haven't opened it yet. Now I'm looking forward to it.

Valerie said...

Hmm, this is an intersting review. I agree it's an amazing book, although there was a point, midway through where I did kind of want to put it down. Not because I didn't care about the charecters, because I did, but I was frustrated with the world, or town, conspiring against Miles. Which is the point, in some ways. What I loved was the ending, the way so many different stories came together, like ribbons tying up. It didn't feel rushed, just finished. And just neatly enough to not leave the reader feeling cheated.
Loves: Miles's name. The way his name felt weary, over-travled.
Tick's name. Something nervous and unstable about her existance as a teenager.

Laura said...

I'm just glad to hear that other people hug their books after reading! However, you're hugging big fancy books, and I'm hugging not-so-trashy romance novels!