Customer Reviews for

Elsewhere

Average Rating 3.5
( 24 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Fans of Russo's novels will want to know more about him from Elsewhere!

This memoir by my favorite living novelist is actually more a memoir of his dysfunctional mother than himself. He waits a long time into the book to reveal some of himself, but this only because in life he must never have had therapy, thus he discovered late how truly ...
This memoir by my favorite living novelist is actually more a memoir of his dysfunctional mother than himself. He waits a long time into the book to reveal some of himself, but this only because in life he must never have had therapy, thus he discovered late how truly disturbed his mother was. I suspect that all of his novels were therapy of a kind for him, and for that I am thankful to him, as his novels are just wonderful. He is a great observer of characters, and he is an author who seems to find something likable in each and every character. Yet I suspect that the flip side of this power of observation of others is that he has done less really deep observation of himself. Much like reading books, and then writing books, became and escape for him, observing his mother pulled him away from attending to his own inner voice more. In the beginning of this book I was very bothered by how blind Richard seemed to be to his mother’s disturbance, and how he was used by her to try to cover and avoid more self-examination into her child-like self. When an adult daughter of the author shows OCD symptoms, he can finally make the connection to his mother’s bizarre behavior over a lifetime, but he apparently does not know that OCD was only one of her issues. Her main problem was a personality disorder that kept her childlike and able to avoid most adult responsibilities, either by blaming her problems on her “nerves,” or by blaming everyone else in her life. Much like my more disturbed mother! However, the following revealing paragraph toward the end of the book shows how Richard had it worse than I did, in that I, at least, had a father and a brother to buffer the insanity. Richard did not.
“One of the sadder truths of childhood is that children, lacking the necessary experience by which to gauge, are unlikely to know if something is abnormal or unnatural unless an adult tells them. Worse, once anything of the sort has been established as normal, it will likely be perceived as such well into adulthood, and this is particularly true for the only child, who has no one to compare notes with.”
Richard realizes in very late age that he had “enabled” his mother’s childlike behavior his whole life, whereas I started to realize consciously, around age 5, that everyone who enabled my mother would be used up by her and then tossed away not needed. Therefore I was eventually able to completely stop all enabling behavior by about age 14. For much of this book I felt agitated by Richard not seeing all the ways his mother used him for her own needs, but by the end of the book I was again grateful to him for capturing, for describing so well a milder version of the dysfunction that was much worse in my own household. Even reading Richard’s novels, I always feel like he and I would have been fast friends, had we met during any part of our lives; from childhood through later age. I will never meet him, never have beer with him, and oddly I feel a bit sad about that every time I finish one of his books.

posted by BillJackson49 on December 3, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

An interesting look at the relationship between a boy/young man/man and his mother.

I love Russo--however, that being said, I found this book became a bit tiresome, a bit too long, as its only true subject seems to be Russo's relationship with his mentally-impaired mother. One becomes a bit impatient as he allows his mother continually to dictate the ...
I love Russo--however, that being said, I found this book became a bit tiresome, a bit too long, as its only true subject seems to be Russo's relationship with his mentally-impaired mother. One becomes a bit impatient as he allows his mother continually to dictate the details of his life--where he (and she) should live; his work and even his marriage, to his VERY long-suffering wife. One is almost relieved when his mother passes away, which is a terrible thing to feel; and since it's the end of the book, I cannot help but wonder how he has recovered from a life spent exclusively, it seems, at the beck and call of others--mostly his mother, but he seems to put the well-being of everyone in his family ahead of his own.
I don't think I would recommend this book, unless it was to someone in a similar predicament; go back and read somme of his marvelous fiction, such as "Empire Falls" or "Bridge of Sighs".

posted by 781481 on December 3, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2013

    Most of this book is worth reading.

    It was interesting to read about the relationship between his mother and himself, but than sadly he had to add his political views into the story. In light of today's problems with the NSA spying, IRS targeting, the Libya murders, the Fast and Furious mess, take over of American health care system, and the poor international relations plans and weak organization about Syria - it was creepy reading political thoughts coming from an unsable woman and it not being questioned. I will continue to read Russo but I wish I could give this book 5 stars instead of 4.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    I loved this book. I love the author's writing style (and plan to get more of the books he's written), and I just wanted to keep reading it. It just drew you in. And the end result of finding out what may have truly been his Mom's illness was very eye-opening.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2012

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    Posted December 31, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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