Elsewhere

Elsewhere

by Richard Russo
3.6 26

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Overview

Elsewhere by Richard Russo

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 town they all struggled variously to escape.

Anyone familiar with Richard Russo's fiction will recognize Gloversville, New York, once famous for producing that eponymous product and anything else made of leather. This is where the author grew up, the only son of an aspirant mother and a good-time, second-fiddle father who were born into this close-knit community. But by the time of his childhood in the 1950s, prosperity was inexorably being replaced by poverty and illness (often tannery-related), everyone barely scraping by under a very low horizon. A world elsewhere was the dream his mother instilled in Rick, and strived for for herself, and their subsequent adventures and tribulations—beautifully recounted here—were to prove lifelong, as would Gloversville's fearsome grasp on them both.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307959539
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/30/2012
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

RICHARD RUSSO is the author of seven novels and The Whore's Child, a collection of stories. In 2002 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls, which like Nobody's Fool, was adapted to film.

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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Elsewhere 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
blocher9 More than 1 year ago
This combination biography/autobiography of Russo's growing up with and eventually becoming the long-term caretaker of his dysfunctional mother is troublesome in its exposition of details that make the reader uncomfortable at best. Russo gives his mother a multitude of passes on things she did that affected his life --- e.g. their lack of money because she felt that her job at General Electric required her to dress stylishly (read expensively)even as they lived with her parents in a two-flat. Also, Russo's wife receives very little coverage but the woman should be nominated for sainthood for sticking through all the years. She must really love him. I recall my own mother, who suffered from a tyrannical German mother-in-law for whom nothing was ever good enough. My father bought his mother a house down the block from ours and went up every night for dinner with her. I recall my mother telling me one time that if "GG" ever moved in, that would be her final straw. Eventually she did and it wasn't but I cannot believe that Russo's wife didn't, at some point, give him the ultimatum: "your mother or me!" I love Russo's other stuff so much that I guess I can forgive him for this one. Baldacci did a horrible romance novel last year... it happens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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".
JustMyTwoCents More than 1 year ago
A Difficult Memoir--more about the mother than the man-- I read this memoir with great interest, devouring it quickly--hence the three  stars--but, much as I would have liked to, I could not give it more as I was left feeling frustrated  that Russo's memoir was more about his mother than anything else. Obviously, his mother's mental illness and subsequent demands on his life dictated that the story would need to center on her, but I would have liked to get a better picture about how this impacted his own personal relationships, most especially with his wife, but his children too, and, really any friendships or other relationships that he may have established or wished to establish that might take up his time. Perhaps Mrs. Russo did not want to be highlighted in the story, but surely this had to take a huge toll on their relationship. He mentioned the fact that his work as a novelist required he travel to promote his books on tours. It is hard not to believe that such trips would not create tremendous problems with his mother, but his travels for work only get a footnote. This was a good story, a moving one, and one that gives a lot of insight into obsessive compulsive disorder left unchecked, but it barely touched on the collateral damage such illnesses have on their extended families. Still, reading it DID make me go back to the library to pick up a few of Russo's other works. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you want to read about a Bipolar woman, this is probably a good book for you. Honestly, I've enjoyed many of Russo's other books, but not this one.
booksnoopks More than 1 year ago
I don't believe I've ever read about such an interesting character. Truth, of course, is always stranger than fiction. Mr. Russo's mother defies description.
BillJackson49 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book very much. Richard Russo is one of my favorite writers, maybe my favorite. Certainly the movie made from his book Nobody's Fool is my favorite movie, with no competition. Elsewhere gives much insight into his character and made is even clearer what an honest and compassionate writer and person he is. I recommend this book to anyone who has enjoyed Russo's novels, anyone interested in biography and anyone interested in contemporary literature.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Redundant, could have been said in 20 pages.
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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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.