Richard Russo…The Risk Pool and more


I do have a favorite author…his name is Richard Russo. I love him because he makes me laugh. I have several of his books including Empire Falls, The Straight Man, and now The Risk Pool. Russo has been around for many years doing what he does so beautifully. Straight Man, my favorite of all his novels, was hilariously poignant. I could see Alan Alda playing the college professor that was driven crazy by the people around him and Larry Linville, the Frank Burns character in Mash, play “Or She”. I still smile when I think of the story line and dilemmas the characters faced.

Now I am reading The Risk Pool, one of Russo’s earlier novels (1986). The story premise is built around three people. The child, Ned Hall is growing up in spite of two parents that have know idea what they are doing. The father, Sam Hall, is never fully employed and devoid of any common sense or morals. And Jenny Hall, the mother who a mentally ill very proper woman that has fallen into despair. Ned is a child that is just hanging in there, wondering about the “adults” that inhabit his life. The boy’s sense of humor carries the reader through some horrible situations with a ribald introspection that is hilarious. I have laughed over and over.

I am reminded of Ann Tyler’s Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. She and Russo have that talent of describing the funeral scene and making the reader laugh and cry at the same time. I love them both.

If you are looking for a few good read, I would suggest any of the above. I see that Richard Russo has a book that was released in 2007 called Bridge of Sighs. When I see it I will pick it up. I know I cannot go wrong.

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