Risk PoolRichard Russo
5 January 2017
Published by Allen & Unwin
In Mohawk, New York, 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 car 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.
If Russo's books possessed only their big-hearted, endlessly revisitable characters, that would be enough. That they also possess belting story lines about broken families, comically recalcitrant pensioners, small-town decay and the indelibility of roots sometimes seems like an act of unparalleled literary generosity.
Perhaps if it was pointed out that here was a US writer who stood somewhere between Anne Tyler at her darkest and Russell Banks, with an occasional hint of Richard Ford at his least bleak, perhaps Russo would become as widely read as he deserves to be.
No one writing today catches the detail of life with such stunning accuracy.Annie Proulx
Charms readers with its humour and refreshes with its vast, Dickensian cast of characters.
Russo proves himself a master at evoking the sights, feelings and smells of a town... Superbly original and maliciously funny.
New York Times Book Review