The Risk Pool

The Risk Pool

4.4 44
by Richard Russo
     
 

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A wonderfully funn and perceptive novel in the traditions of Thornton Wilder and Anne Tyler, The Risk Pool is set in Mohawk, New York, where Ned Hall is doing his best to grow up, even though neither of his estranged parents can properly be called adult.

His father, Sam, cultivates bad habits so assiduously that he is stuck at the bottom of his auto

Overview

A wonderfully funn and perceptive novel in the traditions of Thornton Wilder and Anne Tyler, The Risk Pool is set in Mohawk, New York, where Ned Hall is doing his best to grow up, even though neither of his estranged parents can properly be called adult.

His father, Sam, cultivates bad habits so assiduously that he is stuck at the bottom of his auto insurance risk pool. His mother, Jenny, is slowly going crazy from resentment at a husband who refuses either to stay or to stay away. As Ned veers between allegiances to these grossly inadequate role models, Richard Russo gives us a book that overflows with outsized characters and outlandish predicaments and whose vision of family is at once irreverent and unexpectedly moving.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Russo proves himself a master at evoking the sights, feelings, and smells of a town. . . . [The Risk Pool is] superbly original and maliciously funny." —The New York Times Book Review

"A fine, closely observed novel . . . Richard Russo writes with such sympathy and attention to the rhythms of small-town life that he invests inarticulate lives with genuine passion. . . . [He] has succeeded in creating characters with the emotional weight of people we've known in real life." —The New York Times

"Weighted with wonderful detail . . . a rich, anecdotal novel brimming with the metaphorical lessons of adolescence: on pocket billiards and sexual frustration, trout fishing and serenity." —Boston Globe

"Richard Russo has it just perfect in The Risk Pool. A gem of a novel." —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``Brilliantly fulfilling the promise of his first novel, Mohawk , Russo's ``richly satisfying narrative'' is about the coming-of-age of Ned Hall, son of Sam Hall--a disreputable barfly, petty thief and gambler whose wicked ways place him at the lower end of the insurance risk pool. PW called the author's prose style ``as seductive as spring.'' (Nov.)
Library Journal
A story of not-so-successful folk in a decaying town in New York as seen through the eyes of Ned Hall, better known as ``Sam's son.'' Sam was once an average citizen who grew up, married, and went off to fight in World War II but returned a drifter. Leaving his wife and small son at home, he would haunt the bars and pool halls and hobnob with his cronies. Now and then he'd appear from nowhere to take Ned with him. When Ned's mother, Jenny, trips over the edge, Ned goes to live with Sam in a dilapidated loft above the town's one department store and shares his father's roguish life. Ned's 20-year story is filled with wonderfully drawn characters and hilarious adventures but the subtext is one of sadness and near desperation. Highly recommended. Marion Hanscom, SUNY at Binghamton Lib.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679753834
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/15/1994
Series:
Vintage Contemporaries Series
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
67,704
Product dimensions:
5.17(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.83(d)

Meet the Author

Richard Russo grew up in Gloversville, New York, the small, mostly working-class town that has served as the prototype for his fictional Mohawk and North Bath. His parents were separated, and he recalls his father as a man who "lived a life of studied bad habits. I became of interest to him when I got old enough to follow him into the OTB and then into the bar and then into the pool hall, when I could be taken to the places he went and not interrupt the rhythm of his life."

With his father, Russo worked construction jobs during his vacations from the University of Arizona, where he received his B.A. He later went on to get a master's degree and had almost earned his Ph.D. in American literature when it occurred to him that he would rather write his own novels than analyze other people's. He is the author of three books, Mohawk, The Risk Pool, and Nobody's Fool, which has recently been made into a feature film starring Paul Newman and Bruce Willis. Richard Russo teaches writing at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. He lives there with his wife, Barbara, and their two daughters.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Gloversville, New York
Date of Birth:
July 15, 1949
Place of Birth:
Johnstown, New York
Education:
B.A., University of Arizona, 1967; Ph.D., University of Arizona, 1979; M.F.A., University of Arizona, 1980

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The Risk Pool 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not one of his best...dragged on in spots.
bbqbill More than 1 year ago
I read The Risk Pool shortly after original publication, and have re-read it three or four times since. It's one of the most enjoyable reads I've ever experienced. I have read all of his books, and The Risk Pool is Russo's best work. He creates word magic with phrases such as, "He put out what was left of his cigarette with what was left of his thumb". You can't go wrong with this one!
adabelle22 More than 1 year ago
The characters and the storyline brought back fond, and not so fond, memories of the small Louisiana town I grew up in. I recommend reading Mohawk first, then this follow up. The writing is superb! Another winner for Russo.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The kind of book that keeps you up for "5 more minutes..." until you pass out and cant wait to start reading again as soon as you wake up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JustMyTwoCents More than 1 year ago
Really a 3-1/2 star novel--the question was whether to round up or down. After reading Richard Russo's recent memoir which focussed on caring for his mother well into adult life, I thought I should revisit some of his  fiction. I had read Empire Falls and enjoyed it very much, so since then I picked up from the library his collection of short stories, and after that Bridge of Sighs. Risk Pool is the last of his books I plan to read for a while. While I enjoy them, his stories seem more to me to be less about plot and more about its characters. The settings so far have always been in small, failing mill towns in upstate New York. While I enjoyed the read, it seemed to me to be far too long, and I eventually tired of story after story after story about the narrator's father, his drinking exploits, and his negligent parenting. I simply didn't like the father, and felt annoyed that Russo seemed to want me to like him or at least feel sorry for him at the end. I didn't. At the same time, isn't that how life is? Sometimes the people who do all the wrong things are the most beloved because they are "fun" and the people who do all the right things, are treated with far less admiration. I felt that way about the lawyer who eventually married Ned's mother. Long suffering, and patient, he seemed to me the only one in the story who really looked out for Ned both as a child and into adulthood. Yet Ned seemed to have little appreciation for him. His mother never loved him. And his father beat him up. Unfortunately, while I didn't like a lot of the character's behaviors, they also rang true to life and Russo was adept at making that point--like it or not. Still, at the end of the novel, I closed the book and was done with it. I felt no sadness that the story had come to an end. For that reason, I found it a good story, but not a great one.-
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I need a mate
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Join snowclan at red icy. Stonestar
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Lotus Description: A white shecat with pinkish ears, tail, paws and stripe down her back. She has green eyes. Age: About 25 Personality: Caring, Compassionate, Funny Bio: She and Blaze were kittypets until their twolegs house burned down. Other info: After the fire, Blaze taught her to hunt and fight. She misses her twolegs. Although Lotus isn't the best at anything, she truly tries her best to be good at everything. __________________________________________________________________________ Name: Blaze Description: A black tom with strange orange eyes. Age: About 25 moons Personality: Quiet, Kind, and Protective Bio: Same as Lotus Other info: Blaze was glad when the fire happened, and had already learned to hunt and fight. He is espically good at hunting, and would do anything to rid himself of the horrible nightmares he has every night.
bigbox2610 More than 1 year ago
I have read everything Richard Russo has written and this is absolutely the BEST. So good in fact, this is the second time I've read it. Probably not the last. Do yourself a favor, get this book, and read it.....at least twice!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hd
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DOES ANYONE REMEMBER ME? Of course not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh my
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello! And Skylar my real name is Skylar! And my nickname is Sky. I am a girl. U? And its uncommon for Skylar to be spelled with an a!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didnt enjoy the sample.It was kinda gross.....woulda given 0 stars if I could.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey ppl
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The young blind shecat secretly creeps in and whispers to the leader accidently scares him/her. "May i join and become the med cat apprentice?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ggggggggg
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
God i hope u get this....go to the book next to ours....it explains everything...i miss youu teww baybe. So much. Idk how im even getting wi fi right now bcuz i nvr do....i really hope u read this tho. And if youre reading this nd know where dustin is...can u help? I got kicked off his nd my book. So like this says...i need him to the book next to his nd mine. Thnx.