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Elsewhere Free read ´ 102 È [Read] ➳ Elsewhere By Richard Russo – Dogsalonbristol.co.uk After eight commanding works of fiction the Pulitzer Prize winner now turns to memoir in a hilarious moving and always surprising account of his life his parents and the upstate New York town they all After eight commanding works of fiction the Pulitzer PAfter eight commanding works of fiction the Pulitzer Prize winner now turns to memoir in a hilarious moving and always surprising account of his life his parents and the upstate New York town they all struggled variously to escapeAnyone familiar with Richard Russo's acclaimed novels will recognize Gloversville once famous for producing that eponymous product and anything else made of leather This is w. Reminder to self KISS – Keep It Short SteveRichard Russo is a great writer His stories are fast moving his characters are recognizable and his words entice without adornments In fact I like him so much I read this to become a completist You might imagine that a memoir by a writer of his caliber would be a crowning achievement and you’d be right for parts But he chose a fairly narrow focus that in my mind weakened the whole While I don’t doubt that his main subject – mother Jean – was a profound influence I found myself wishing that the other drivers shaping him weren’t crowded out by her dominance Jean had a “nervous condition” that impacted young Rick than anyone else Rick’s dad a gambler with little tolerance for the home situation had run off early on Jean while supportive in a collusive sort of way learned to manipulate her son well enough to pull his strings even into adulthood Russo’s wife must have been a saint to put up with all the different do overs they provided for Jean Her condition a severe inability to cope was undiagnosed during her life but was later discovered to have been OCD It certainly gave young Rick a writer’s feel for emotional hardship and conflict After reading this I concluded that Russo comes by his empathy honestly And he’s constitutionally incapable of a bad sentence though he can write a redundant one The number of times Jean would buck herself up saying “I’ll just have to give myself a good talking to” was well into double figuresAs big a fan as I am of Russo I was hoping for There was so little of anything other than these difficult interactions that would count as character shaping An interesting exception was when he described his hometown in upstate New York Gloversville known in better days for its tannery and ladies’ gloves was the kind of place he has written about so convincingly in Mohawk The Risk Pool and Nobody’s Fool among others Conclusion great writing limited purview should have been Part 1 of a better rounded memoir

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Nd their subseuent adventures and tribulations in achieving that goal beautifully recounted here were to prove lifelong as would Gloversville's fearsome grasp on them both Fraught with the timeless dynamic of going home again encompassing hopes and fears and the relentless tides of familial and individual complications this story is arresting comic heartbreaking and truly beautiful an immediate classi. 'Nobody's Fool' written by Richard Russo is on the list of my favorite books and although I was aware that he based the towns and characters in his novels on his real life hometown of Gloversville in upstate New York I WAS curious about just what this memoir 'Elsewhere' would add to what I already know To my surprise 'Elsewhere' didn't turn out to be a memoir after all at least not in the traditional sense not in the way I am used to Instead this book was about Richard Russo's mother Jean Having said that I think it's important to add that because of the nature of their lives and their relationship a book about JEAN Russo is by definition a book about Richard Russo The two for better or worse were interconnected and their lives were intertwined in a big way until the end of Jean Russo's life I've read several reviews that were written of this book and the consensus seems to be that Jean Russo struggled with mental illness throughout her life what was whispered about by family members as 'nerves' Richard hypothesized that his mother had had OCD and bouts of anxiety I certainly don't know what the truth is and I don't have the credentials to determine whether Jean Russo was indeed mentally ill All I can say is that I could relate to Richard's plight in many ways When Richard was a young boy his parents split up and he and his mother returned to her hometown of Gloversville New York an old mill town in serious decline The two lived in an upstairs apartment in his grandparents' house Although his mother did not drive she caught a ride each day to her job at the General Electric plant in Schenectady What seemed most important to Jean was that she live independently and she wanted everyone she knew to know she was an independent woman often pointing this out during disagreements to her parents who were uite aware that the independence she referred to was not exactly true Richard's father was largely absent from his life growing up he chose to spend much of his time in gambling pursuits Throughout Richard's life Jean Russo talked of little else but her desire to leave Gloversville She seemed to feel that if she could just relocate ANY PLACE ELSE she could have the life she felt she deserved And throughout her life whenever she became upset or anxious she would declare to Richard Don't I deserve a life In fact that became a sort of mantra and it seemed to me that it became her way of controlling and perhaps manipulating her son to do as she wished to become an accomplice of sorts to her many whims Eventually Richard was grown and ready to go off to college This too became Jean Russo's opportunity Richard was preparing to leave for college in Arizona and he discovered that his mother was pulling up stakes and coming with him She had simply uit her job at General Electric and although she vaguely mentioned a job at the General Electric plant in Arizona it soon became clear that there in fact WAS NO JOB Her plans really went no further than to just escape her hometown I was startled that this grown woman would undertake something so completely foolish but it seemed her desperation to escape her life was greater than her common sense Sadly the same scenario seemed to continue to play out in Jean and Richard Russo's lives for the next 35 years Richard married obtained a PhD started writing and publishing stories and books started a family and through it all his mother continued to move around the country with him and his new family from Arizona to Pennsylvania to Illinois to Maine and finally to Massachusetts With each move both Jean and Richard were a little older and each time Jean seemed less and less able to cope This left Richard and his extremely patient wife to scout out a new apartment for Jean which she NEVER liked hire a professional cleaning crew to thoroughly clean the new apartment before she moved in as the apartments were NEVER clean pay the movers and make up the cost difference between what the rent ACTUALLY was each month and what Jean's rent subsidy would cover I have to admit that this book was awfully frustrating to read I was constantly torn between feelings of annoyance with Jean and her demands AND Richard's inability to address the unreasonableness of these demands and compassion for what played out in both of their lives for such a long time I suppose at this point I could say that Jean had serious problems she COULD NOT and WOULD NOT deal with and Richard DID seem to fill the role as her enabler That is probably a true statement But it also seems to me that I could say that Jean was a desperately unhappy woman for most of her life who seemed to suffer from the 'grass is always greener ELSEWHERE' syndrome She believed that each new place would bring her happiness and the ability to FINALLY START her life the life she kept reminding Richard that she deserved The problem it seems to me was that she was so caught up in getting to the next destination that she became and isolated and failed to see and appreciate the goodness that she already possessed in her life I found this story to be incredibly sad Whether Jean's inability to cope with her life is because of mental illness well I can't say It certainly seems that might have been the case As for Richard it seemed to me that he is like many children faced with a desperately unhappy parent he absorbed her unhappiness and took on himself the responsibility of trying to make her happy This most likely was not exactly great for his OWN mental health But perhaps it's possible that his life with his mother and his memories of Gloversville provided him with the material he has used so creatively in the richness of the characters readers find within his novels

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ElsewhereHere the author grew up the only son of an aspirant mother and a charming feckless father who were born into this close knit community But by the time of his childhood in the s prosperity was inexorably being replaced by poverty and illness often tannery related with everyone barely scraping by under a very low horizonA world elsewhere was the dream his mother instilled in Rick and strived for herself a. And so my major crush on Richard Russo continues I'm not exactly sure why I like this guy's books so much He's not a flashy writer nor particularly chewy and his novels usually set in depressed rust belt towns in upstate New York don't exactly come at you with big new ideas about the human condition And yet I've loved them all for their heart their generosity of spirit and his talent for bringing people to life whether in a few sentences or over the course of hundreds of pages He also knows how to tell a story how to pace the narrative and because he treats his characters with so much respect and clearly really likes these men and women I guess I always feel like he likes ME the reader as well Anyway Elsewhere is Russo's memoir told almost entirely within the context of his painful infuriating exhausting and of course deeply loving relationship with his mother which sounds like it could be a tactical disaster narrative wise and incredibly claustrophobic especially considering how demanding and frustrating and yes completely fucking crazy his mother is but it's not Somehow Russo pulls it off We begin in the small depressed upstate New York town of Gloversville once the ladies glove capital of the world energized and flush with cash though by the time Russo came along in the late 1950s things started changing fast and for the worse and it's been nothing but downhill since A boarded up downtown Falling down houses with residents on the brink of foreclosure including Russo's relatives Horrific seasonal low paying jobs in road construction and tanneries Hopelessness drinking and abandonment Russo's dad split when he was just a kid popping in and out every few years and so he young Rick became the entire focus of his mom's the vivacious and lovely but terribly troubled Jean's dreams and demands Bad craziness lasting decades and essentially taking Russo and his family hostage especially his long suffering and incredibly understanding wife Barbara ensues I kept asking myself how I would have handled such a needy obsessive mother who demands that every one of Russo life's decisions and changes include her and often get sabotaged by her and her demands which increasingly lack any sort of sense The answer not nearly as well as he did Russo fans should eat this up as I did