On Helwig Street: A Memoir

On Helwig Street: A Memoir

Hardback

By (author) Richard Russo

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  • Publisher: CHATTO & WINDUS
  • Format: Hardback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 218mm x 26mm | 403g
  • Publication date: 15 November 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 070118776X
  • ISBN 13: 9780701187767
  • Sales rank: 843,360

Product description

Jean Russo was a single mother in the 1950s, badly paid and living with her parents in Gloversville, New York, a dead-end town whose heyday as the hub of the leather-goods industry was just a distant memory. 'You are getting out of Gloversville' was her mantra throughout Richard's high school years. And when he finally made his intrepid escape from the family home on Helwig Street - fleeing to a far-flung college in a banger nicknamed The Gray Death - Jean saw her chance of a better life elsewhere, and jumped in for the first of many ill-conceived adventures. But life on the run from home took its toll on them both, and in this captivating memoir Russo describes how childhood segued into adulthood and parenthood in the company of his restless mother, for whom the grass was always greener in the place where she was not. At the same time he recounts with touching honesty how his own contentment and literary success were at odds with her lifelong battle against disillusionment and anxiety - and the siren call of Gloversville.

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Author information

Richard Russo won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for his fifth novel, Empire Falls. He is also the author of Mohawk, The Risk Pool, Nobody's Fool, Straight Man, Bridge of Sighs and That Old Cape Magic, as well as a collection of stories, The Whore's Child. His original screenplay is the basis for Rowan Atkinson's film Keeping Mum. He lives with his wife in Maine and in Boston.

Review quote

"I loved this very affectionate and haunting portrayal of Russo's mother and the glove-making world gone by. The man as a boy watching his own mother's helpless and scattered journey through her illness, describing in touching detail what the boy knew but only the man can say. It reminds me of the power that a personal story can have" -- Hugo Hamilton author of 'The Speckled People' "This is a small masterpiece" -- DJ Taylor Independent on Sunday "Absorbing memoir" -- Robert Collins Sunday Times "Sharply observed, emotionally true and metaphorically rich" -- J Robert Lennon Guardian "On Helwig Street is an excellent addition to the burgeoning genre of memoirs dealing on the complexities of the maternal bond. There is a fine line between mothering and smothering, a distinction Russo explores masterfully in this enjoyable and thoughtful book" Bookseller