The Risk Pool

The Risk Pool

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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 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.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 1994, ©1988
ISBN: 9780679753834
Branch Call Number: RUS
Characteristics: 479 pages ; 20 cm


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Sep 07, 2014

Like John Irving, whom he is sometimes compared to, Richard Russo is a big-hearted, old fashioned (in the best sense of the word) novelist who immerses who in the lives of his characters and has little use for post-modernism or avant-garde experimentation. His second novel, "The Risk Pool" (1988) takes place in a small, shabby New York town where the inhabitants live close to the edge and too close to each other. Like some of his other books, it centers on the strained relationship between a charming, but feckless father and his well-meaning, frustrated son. Russo can be sardonic, but he never mocks his characters and, like Irving, he writes with a great deal of compassion and nuance. The book does go long, but it works because you get to know the characters and the town so well. Also see "Nobody's Fool," and the Pulitzer-winning "Empire Falls." One of our best novelists.

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