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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

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on 6 May 2017
Sully is a largely likeable but chaotic individual who charms people into overlooking his careless and sometimes violent behaviour (though would he really have got off so lightly after punching a cop?) His warm friendships with old ladies such as retired teacher Miss Beryl and dementia sufferer Hattie show that he is not just the bar room brawler that his father was. The book's strength is the variety and depth of its characters, because there is little in the way of plot. The small town world of North Bath is also memorably portrayed. Some notes jar these days - the unsparing use of the 'n' word (no doubt true to life for the 1980s period) - and Sully's casual cruelty to the poor guard dog that he poisons (are we meant to find this funny?) stand out. But his teasing of his sidekick Rub is subtly intertwined with a strong affection, very close to love and Sully is redeemed by his underlying kindness. All in all a memorable meander and I may not be able to resist renewing my acquaintance with these characters in Russo's sequel, Everybody's Fool.
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on 21 May 2017
I found it slightly hard to finish but only because so very little actually happens in the story. However it is beautifully written and captures the soul of its character and small town USA in scintillating manner
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on 23 April 2017
I loved it! An easy and interesting read. I feel like I've spent a few weeks living in Bath with these people and will miss them.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 September 2014
If you don't know Richard Russo novels you have a treat ahead of you. This is my fourth and, yet again, despite its length, I didn't want it to finish. Sully, the 60-year old hero in this one, is not only a hopeless loser, as are most of Russo's characters, but - I won't spoil it by listing his character flaws but let's say he is not someone most of us would admire in real life. Yet Russo writes with such wit and humanity, I found myself desperately fond of old Sully and all the other no-hopers who do very little but get drunk, smoke, argue and insult each other. That is surely one of the highest achievements of a novel - to take us somewhere we wouldn't want to go and show us the good in it.

I listened to the audio version by Ron Mclarty and if you have access to audio books I would strongly recommend that version as his reading is superb. His ability to put multidimensional expression into a single utterance such as "ok" is a pleasure to witness.

The book covers 3 generations with the majority of the attention given to the older end. It is refreshing to see the focus and sympathy given to the unattractive 80 year old Mrs Peoples, and to the younger grandparents whose sex lives Russo does not shrink from describing.

Warning if you don't like 4 letter words and crude references to parts of the anatomy, steer well clear of this.

One final comment: if you like banter and bar talk, I can't think of anyone who gets it so exactly right as Russo. (If you know of anyone else who can match it please let me know).
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on 22 September 2014
I did not like this book, I found it very tedious and overlong.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 March 2016
Richard Russo’s ability to draw you into his fictional world is uncanny. Even though his tales of contemporary small-town America, with all its idiosyncrasies and flaws, often cover familiar (and, indeed, similar) ground, Russo’s ability to reinvent characters and to draw them with a level of personal detail and affection is (perhaps with the exception of Charles Dickens) almost unparalleled in the fiction I have read. His 1993 novel Nobody’s Fool is another case in point. Its apparent parochialism, perhaps suggested by the book’s cover (a deserted 'small-town street’ straight out of The Last Picture Show), is belied by the universal nature of Russo’s four generation character study, centring on the pairing of belligerent 60-year, the eponymous Sully, and his landlady and town matriarch, Miss Beryl, and taking in the past, present and future of the pair’s family histories with all their rivalries, jealousies and unrequited loves and ambitions. Particularly impressive is the way Russo’s tales always possess a near-perfect (and poignant) narrative arc, here taking in along the way metaphors for the faded disillusionment of his subjects such as an ageing cripple, a dilapidated Queen Anne chair and an incapacitated Dobermann dog, but always ultimately revealing the author’s life-affirming compassion for his characters.

Nobody’s Fool comes highly recommended, as do Empire Falls, Bridge of Sighs and (my personal favourite) The Risk Pool by the same author.
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on 7 April 2016
We are supposed to admire Sully, the free-thinking character. But he is just another silly loser.
Chaplin etc. didn't thrill me.
Stupid characters belong to those who find someone falling over on a banana skin to be funny.
Not me.
I did like Russo's humanity.
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on 19 November 1998
This book details a few days in the life of Don Sullivan (Sully), a self-employed handyman in a small North American town. It's both funny and thoughtful with a well-drawn list of characters. This is also the best book about men I have ever read - and I don't mean "MEN" in a Hemingway-way. Sully comes across as flawed and disorganised, with a life to match; totally bemused by women and obligations of family, he ends up doing the right thing by most in the end. This novel was filmed and starred Paul Newman - the film also carries a hearty recommendation
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on 3 December 2003
All of Richard Russo's books are wonderfully written and worthy of reading but the character "Sully" is one in a million, at least I hope so! You wouldn't want him as a father but he's a character you can't help liking, in fact you fall half in love with him in this tale. This is one of those books that tells us what we're really like and what we think we don't like. We are often wrong.
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on 6 February 2010
I have just discovered Russo as an author, - his stories are not the type I usually go for - but his books are unputdownable. Not much action, but his characters are brilliantly wrought and his style of writing is effortlessly readable.I am now reading a third book by Russo and each one does not disappoint in any way.Thoroughly recommended.
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