Nobody's Fool and Everybody's Fool

by Richard Russo

(2016 Selection)

About the Books  About the Author 
Reviews Events
Awards and Accolades Discussion Questions
Other Works by the Author Partners
 

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The Library appreciates the kind and generous support of the following partners for their help in promoting the One Book program.  With their assistance, One Book, Everybody Reads truly has become a community-wide event.

 

 

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          Funding for One Book, Everybody Reads is made possible by Friends of the Wilmette Public Library.

Nobody's Fool and Everybody's Fool

by Richard Russo

(2016 Selection)

About the Books  About the Author 
Reviews Events
Awards and Accolades Discussion Questions
Other Works by the Author Partners
   

 

About the Author

R Russo credit Elena Seiber

Novelist and screenwriter Richard Russo was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his 2001 book, Empire Falls. His other novels include Mohawk (1986), The Risk Pool (1988), Nobody’s Fool (1993), Straight Man (1997), Bridge of Sighs (2007), and That Old Cape Magic (2009).  He also has authored two collections, The Whore’s Child and Other Stories (2002) and Interventions (2012). Elsewhere, a memoir, was published in 2012.  As a screenwriter, Mr. Russo has authored several adaptations and original screenplays that were produced as feature films or television productions. These include the films Nobody's Fool (1994) and Twilight (1998), starring Paul Newman, as well as the television mini-series, Empire Falls, which was based on Mr. Russo's book and starred Paul Newman, Ed Harris, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Helen Hunt. In addition, Mr. Russo has contributed short fiction to numerous periodicals and served as editor for the 2010 volume of The Best American Short Stories.

Richard Russo was born in Johnstown, New York, on July 15, 1949. He holds a bachelor's degree, a doctor of philosophy degree, and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Arizona. He taught fiction at the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and was a professor at Colby College, andcurrently lives with his wife in Camden, Maine, and Boston.

About Richard Russo

Richard Russo’s Facebook page

Remedial Reader: The Essential Richard Russo.   (The Daily Beast, June 20, 2012)

Richard Russo's Small-Town America. (NPR, July 17, 2011)

Richard Russo, Happily at Home in Winesburg East. (The New York Times, July 2, 2004)

Richard Russo: The Novelist Again Explores the crucial Impact of Place on Individual Destinies.  (Publishers Weekly, June 7, 1993)

Interviews with Richard Russo

The Mother of the Man. (Commonweal - June 1, 2014)

Richard Russo: 'Nobody's Fool' sequel isn't about Sully (USA Today, May 31, 2013) - VIDEO

NPR: Resenting And Respecting Mom In Russo's 'Elsewhere' (NPR, October 30, 2012 )

Mother and Son: Richard Russo Talks About ‘Elsewhere’  (New York Times, October 30, 2012)

A conversation with Richard Russo. (New York Times, August 14, 2009) - VIDEO

Interview With Richard Russo. (Redivider Journal, July 6, 2008)

Influences: Richard Russo, Writer Empire Falls HBO. New York Magazine, June 6, 2005

Author Interview - Richard Russo. (Identity Theory, June 16, 2001)

A conversation with Richard Russo.  (The Writer, December 2000)

 

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          Funding for One Book, Everybody Reads is made possible by Friends of the Wilmette Public Library.

 

Nobody's Fool and Everybody's Fool

by Richard Russo

(2016 Selection)

About the Books  About the Author 
Reviews Events
Awards and Accolades Discussion Questions
Other Works by the Author Partners
 

Discussion Questions for Nobody's Fool

Nobodys Fool for web

1. This novel's title, Nobody's Fool, is a punning reference to its protagonist, Donald Sullivan, who at age 60 is "divorced from his own wife, carrying on halfheartedly with another man's, estranged from his son, devoid of self-knowledge, badly crippled and virtually unemployable—all of which he stubbornly confuse[s] with independence." Why is Sully so insistent on remaining nobody's fool? How has this determination affected his relationships with other people?
2. One consequence of Sully's prickly autonomy is his tendency to go off on "stupid streaks." Is Sully a stupid man? How would you evaluate a freedom whose defining characteristic seems to be the freedom to do the wrong thing at the wrong time?
3. From the beginning we know that Sully has a bad knee, and his refusal to treat—or even favor—it generates many of the novel's complications. In what ways does this injury resonate with the novel's theme.
4. Sully's string of misfortunes may also be due to bad luck or malign predestination. Is he destined to be unlucky? To what extent are his actions and character predetermined?
5. Sully's father brutalized him as a child. Sully deserted his son, Peter. Peter abandoned his timid eldest son, Will, to the mercies of his sociopathic little brother. What causes does the author posit for this four-generation history of cruelty and neglect?
6. Perhaps to compensate for Sully's brutal father, Russo supplies Sully with a very good, if somewhat sharp-tongued, surrogate mother, Beryl Peoples. She may, in fact, be the most real and enduring attachment Sully has. How does their relationship compare with Beryl's relationship with her real son, Clive, Jr.? How is the antagonism between Clive and Sully an extension of their childhood rivalry for the affections of Beryl's late husband?
7. How would you characterize Russo's portrayal of relations between the sexes, and why are most of his characters divorced, widowed, or unhappily married?
8. The sudden flashes of good luck (or simple happiness) that illuminate Sully's life and the lives of other characters may be attributable to grace, which The Random House Dictionary of the English Language defines as "the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them." At what moments does grace seem to operate in this novel?
9. Nobody's Fool is also a novel about a town, North Bath, New York, whose misfortunes, like Sully's, may be due to collective stupidity or fate. Even North Bath's venerable elms now constitute a threat to its communal life and property. In what ways do the novel's principal locales—Hattie's, the OTB, and the White Horse-—function as a microcosm of the town as a whole? To what extent are North Bath's decline and grandiose visions of renewal symptomatic of the political and economic climate of America in the 1980s?
10. What role does class play in this novel? To what extent are its characters shaped by economic circumstances?
11. One critic has described Nobody's Fool as "a sad novel camouflaged in comedy." How is this true? What is the nature of the book's sadness? How does Russo balance his comic and tragic impulses?

Courtesy of Vintage Books/Random House

 

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          Funding for One Book, Everybody Reads is made possible by Friends of the Wilmette Public Library.

 

photo of Lee ChildAn Evening with the Author

Lee Child

 

Internationally acclaimed best-selling thriller writer Lee Child appeared before a crowd of over 300 fans to discuss his books and career.  Mr. Child regaled the audience with his personal history and the creation of his iconic hero, Jack Reacher.  Thanks for a great evening!

Want to read or listen to one of Mr. Child's books? Check out the Library catalog.

 

About Lee Child

Lee Child's website

The Independent: Lee Child on Jack Reacher - How the best-selling author writes his mysteries (January 5, 2015)

Esquire: What Lee Child Has Learned from Writing the Jack Reacher Books - December 4, 2014

MichaelCavacini.com: An Interview With International Best-Selling Author Lee Child - September 4, 2014

CBS News: "Personal": Lee Child releases 19th Jack Reacher novel (video) - September 1, 2014

NPR: This Time It's 'Personal': Lee Child Writes His 19th Jack Reacher Novel (audio) - August 31, 2014

Litreactor.com: 10 Questions with Lee Child - September 18, 2013

Wall Street Journal Book Club: Thriller Writer Chooses 'Sophie's Choice' - August 28, 2014

New York Times Book Review: Lee Child - By the Book - December 20, 2012

Time.com: Lee Child on His New Thriller, Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher and Wandering Heroes - September 19, 2012

WTTW Chicago Tonight: Interview with Lee Child (video) - September 19, 2012

Atlas Society: Thriller: Lee Child and the creation of Jack Reacher - March 17, 2011

Reviews of Lee Child's latest book Personal

Denver Post

The Guardian

Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal

Lincoln Journal Star

Publishers Weekly

Sydney Morning Herald


 

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