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The Risk Pool

The Risk Pool

Paperback

By (author) Richard Russo

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 496 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 194mm x 34mm | 340g
  • Publication date: 2 June 2011
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0099276496
  • ISBN 13: 9780099276494
  • Sales rank: 466,735

Product description

The Risk Pool is a thirty-year journey through the lives of Sam Hall, a small-town gambling hellraiser, and his watchful, introspective son Ned. When Ned's mother Jenny suffers a breakdown and retreats from her husband's carelessness into a dream world, Ned becomes part of his father's seedy nocturnal world, touring the town's bars and pool halls, struggling to win Sam's affections while avoiding his sins.

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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, 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

"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" Sunday Times "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" Irish Times "No one writing today catches the detail of life with such stunning accuracy" -- Annie Proulx "Charms readers with its humour and refreshes with it's vast, Dickensian cast of characters" Guardian "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

Editorial reviews

The author of the well-received first novel Mohawk (1986), a long soap opera set in a decaying mill town in upstate New York, here returns to that setting with a father-son drama that spans several decades. With an unerring sense of place, the book transcends some soapiness of its own and breathes life into its small-town types. Ned Hall tells the story of his father Sam, who is at the very bottom of the autoinsurance risk pool; of his mother Jenny, who breaks down after her lover, a priest, leaves her at the communion rail; and of the assorted citizens of Mohawk, ranging from suicidal adolescents and battered drunks to well-to-do philanderers and a solicitous attorney. Sam is the most memorable character, a classic rogue and no-account who appears in his son's life at will until Jenny breaks down. Ned moves in with his father and receives a young man's classic education into street life in the 50's: he learns how to play pool, how to bet the horses, how to steal and lie - partly from malice and hurt, partly to please others. He witnesses endless fights between his father and Drew, the son of his father's girlfriend. He falls in love with the well-to-do girl on the hill and returns, years later, to become her lover and his father's buddy before leaving again. Drew gets killed, Jenny moves to California with the solicitous lawyer, and Sam gets cancer. Though the book gets baggy with too many long-winded stories about smalltown eccentrics and grotesques, its ending is a powerful epiphany, if a bit forced: Ned's girl has a child at the same time as Sam dies. The seasonal structure here comes full circle. Self-consciously written as an old-fashioned novel, the book creates a time and place with gusto and, by its end, manages to move us. (Kirkus Reviews)

Back cover copy

'No one writing today catches the detail of life with such stunning accuracy' Annie Proulx The Risk Pool is a thirty-year journey through the lives of Sam Hall, a small-town gambling hellraiser, and his watchful, introspective son Ned. When Ned's mother Jenny suffers a breakdown and retreats from her husband's carelessness into a dream world, Ned becomes part of his father's seedy nocturnal world, touring the town's bars and pool halls, struggling to win Sam's affections while avoiding his sins. '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 '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' Sunday Times 'Charms readers with its humour and refreshes with it's vast, Dickensian cast of characters' Guardian Also by Richard Russo: [jpegs of Empire Falls, Nobody's Fool, That Old Cape Magic]