By Richard Russo
Completed November 11, 2007
Having finished Empire Falls, I have been contemplating what exactly to say about it. It was a good book. It was a long book. It was very well-written.
But so what? I could say that about many books.
I think the thing that differentiates Empire Falls from other books is how Richard Russo is a master at character development. Empire Falls is the story of Miles Roby, a forty-something future divorcee who struggles as a manager of a local greasy spoon. Living in small-town Empire Falls, everyone knows his business: that his wife left him for the owner of the local health club, that the wealthy Mrs. Whiting holds Miles's future in the palm of her hand, that his daughter is struggling with high school, that he is a nice guy with a grumpy father, meddlesome town sheriff and enterprising brother. So many characters - but by the time the novel is over, Russo depicts them all completely. You really get to know them over the course of the 500 pages.
Another interesting aspect of Empire Falls is the mini-crescendos that occur throughout the story. Each tiny apex springs up every few chapters, until the last 50 pages when you get the "mack daddy" twist. The plot movement flowed liked a good TV drama, which is probably why HBO decided to adapt this novel into a mini-series.
Overall, I enjoyed Empire Falls, and I look forward to reading more of Richard Russo's other books.
(Cross-posted from my blog)