lilacs in bucket

lilacs in bucket

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Russo Factor


First of all, do I like this photo? No. But, it's all I could find that wasn't a generation old. So, sorry universe, and sorry Richard, you're just such a recluse, and I wish you'd get another picture taken.
Anyway.
I love Richard Russo. Been a fan for years now. I have friends who claim they'd rather walk through their skin backward than read anything he writes but I have to differ. I just simply have to stand up for this guy. Besides that, the man won a Pulitzer Prize for crying out loud. He can't really stink, can he? I don't see how.
The thing I like about Russo is how he sees the underbelly; how he shows you, the reader, what's so freaking awful about the situation without actually SAYING it. He sees what the character doesn't want to see, what the character doesn't want to admit to himself or anybody else, he sees what the character sees without seeing it.
Does he cook? No. And you know me well enough by now to know that I do appreciate a good recipe snuck into a good read. But, Richard doesn't cook, so none of that.
So, I'm going to share the Richard Russo books I've read and maybe you will read them too. "Empire Falls" - loved it. "Nobody's Fool" - this may be my favorite. "Straight Man?" I may have read this ten times. And then, there was "Bridge of Sighs."
Quite honestly, there were passages in "Bridge of Sighs" that I had to just turn the pages until certain things came to a close. "Bridge of Sighs" is a great read but, if you love animals, if you love dogs in particular, you aren't going to be able to stand some of the text in that book. Aside from the purposeful cruelty to animals, I loved the book and, I do understand that a writer writes and writes what is given to him to write. I'm not at all condemning Richard for certain passages in that book, just saying I could not read those particular passages in that book. Now, having said that, I also understand that humanity as a whole is so flawed that, if you're going to write and going to be an honest writer, you have to be able to write it all, whatever that may be, and I give Richard credit for doing that and doing it very well. That's really what it's all about for you, for me, for any writer. Tell the truth. It's going to make you throw up sometimes but, if it's truth, tell it. Don't be nambsy-pamsby about it. Tell the truth.
So, on to the latest book from him, "That Old Cape Magic."
I loved this book. I see somewhat a departure here from the older Russo works. "Cape" seems more introspective, particularly into the world of married people, sadder, more honest maybe; it seems to grasp how frail we all are and how fragile relationships really are whether we want to think so or not. Again, Russo grasps our humaness and runs with it and makes a really good showing.
The thing about Russo is that he tells the truth. If you are a fiction writer, you must tell the truth. You absolutely must, whatever that truth is. If you don't tell the truth, don't expect to be found credible. So, write what is yours to write today and tell the truth. Always.

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