Justin Tadlock

Empire Falls

I suppose I should try and write some kind of review of Richard Russo’s Empire Falls. But honestly, it’s hard to describe such a wonderful peace of fiction in a way that wouldn’t understate just how wonderful it is.

The first thing I have to mention is the characters. They are what this book is about. It is about people and their internal conflicts, and that is essentially what any good work of fiction should be about. Miles Roby desperately needs a change in his life, one for the better anyway. Running the Empire Grill has taken a toll on him, and so has Francine Whiting, the evil widow who runs the small New England town. He has a teen daughter named Tick, a wife who is divorcing him for a health club owner named Walt, a father who is about the laziest, uncaring-est drunk one could ever meet. Plus an added dash of weird and hilarious characters who bring this small town to life.

I could say that the book is lacking in plot, but that’s just after reading a few books with insane twisting and turning action and suspense. No, this book has plot. Russo shows what life in a small town is like. It’s about everybody knowing everybody. It’s about secrets. It’s about love. It’s about loss. It’s about wanting something out of life more than flipping burgers.

And I’m going to leave it at that. Empire Falls is a must-read. Now, I’m off to see if the HBO version of it is anywhere near as good as the book.