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'Everybody's Fool' Has Delightfully Flawed Characters

Richard Russo is a magnificent storyteller whose delightfully flawed characters are the people who often go unseen. In his new novel, Everybody’s Fool, Russo resurrects such characters from his beguiling 1993 novel Nobody’s Fool picking them up 10 years later, still in the fictional small upstate New York town of North Bath.   

Everybody’s Fool takes place in a 48 hour period and opens at the funeral of the village judge. It’s a hot summer day and Chief Officer Raymor, a local cop and minor character in the previous book, begrudgingly attends, suit sticky, preoccupied by the fact that when his wife died in a freak accident on her way out the door to a new life, she left a garage door opener in the car. It didn’t open their garage. Whose did it open? Where was she going? Most of the town is attending the service, as are the minor--though fully fleshed out--characters digging the grave. 

Sully, played by an unglamorous Paul Newman in the movie version of Nobody’s Fool, is suffering the physical trauma of a life of smoking, foretelling a scene some 40 hours later when a quorum of characters find themselves in the hospital. His condition, as described by Russo: “ A-Fib. Arrhythmia. A racing heart brought on by exertion. By stress. By nothing at all. Leading to: congestive heart failure. Solution: Open- heart surgery. Quadruple bypass.” 

Richard Russo’s gift of storytelling is unrivaled; he has empathy for his characters no matter how insignificant they seem, he keeps us turning the pages, and he makes us laugh out loud. I envy readers who discover him for the very first time.