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Extended Audio Sample Empire Falls Audiobook, by Richard Russo Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (52,408 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Richard Russo Narrator: Ron McLarty Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2011 ISBN: 9780307967404
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Dexter County, Maine, and specifically the town of Empire Falls, has seen better days, and for decades, in fact, only a succession from bad to worse. One by one, its logging and textile enterprises have gone belly-up, and the once vast holdings of the Whiting clan, presided over by the last scion’s widow, now mostly amount to decrepit real estate. The working classes, meanwhile, continue to eke out whatever meager promise isn’t already boarded up.

Miles Roby gazes over this ruined kingdom from the Empire Grill, an opportunity of his youth that has become the albatross of his daily and future life. Called back from college and set to work by family obligations—his mother ailing, his father a loose cannon—Miles never left home again. Even so, his own obligations are manifold: a pending divorce, a troubled younger brother, and, not least, a peculiar partnership in the failing grill with none other than Mrs. Whiting. All of these, though, are offset by his daughter, Tick, whom he guides gently and proudly through the tribulations of adolescence.

A decent man encircled by history and dreams, by echoing churches and abandoned mills, by the comforts and feuds provided by lifelong friends and neighbors, Miles is also a patient, knowing guide to the rich, hardscrabble nature of Empire Falls: fathers and sons and daughters, living and dead, rich and poor alike.

Shot through with the mysteries of generations and the shattering visitations of the nation at large, Empire Falls is a social novel of panoramic ambition, yet at the same time achingly personal. In the end, the book reveals our worst and best instincts, both our most appalling nightmares and our simplest hopes, with all the vision, grace and humanity of truly epic storytelling.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A rich, humorous, elegantly constructed novel rooted in the bedrock traditions of American fiction. This is easily Russo’s most seductive book thus far.”

    New York Times

  • In a warmhearted novel of sweeping scope.... Russo follows up his rollicking academic satire, Straight Man (1997), with a return to the blue-collar melieu featured in his first three novels and once again shows an unerring sense of the rhythms of small-town life, balancing his irreverent, mocking humor with unending empathy for his characters and their foibles Booklist
  • “Russo writes with a warm, vibrant humanity…A stirring mix of poignancy, drama, and comedy.”

    Washington Post

  • “Not one wrong note…Russo demonstrates a stunning ability for nailing the essentials of character and atmosphere.”

    Newsday

  • “Russo’s most assured novel yet…Empire Falls makes you wish you’d stayed in that small town you grew up in.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Immensely satisfying…[Russo is] an unpretentious master of fictional technique whose deeper wisdom expresses itself in the distinctive fallibility, decency, humor, and grace of the indisputably, irresistibly real people he [creates].”

    Boston Globe

  • “The history of American literature may show that Richard Russo wrote the last great novel of the twentieth century.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Nobody does small-town life better than Richard Russo.”

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • “Engaging…Russo’s unique talent is his way of yoking wry humor to serious sadness, and rollicking entertainment to social commentary.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • Empire Falls, an irreverent but touching depiction of a small New England town on the brink of extinction, is competently read by McLarty, who brings out the warmth and depth of the engaging plot through colorful characterizations and an ironic tone.”

    Booklist (starred audio review)

  • “In a warmhearted novel of sweeping scope…Russo follows up his rollicking academic satire, Straight Man, with a return to the blue-collar milieu featured in his first three novels and once again shows an unerring sense of the rhythms of small-town life, balancing his irreverent, mocking humor with unending empathy for his characters and their foibles.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • Winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
  • A 2001 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction
  • Winner of the 2002 Ambassador Book Award for Fiction
  • Winner of Pulitzer Prize (Fiction), 2002

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Abs | 2/20/2014

    " What a great book. I didn't know where the book was going at first, but it was it was full of more suspense than I thought it would be. I really enjoyed it. It had some depressing parts, but those just made the book seem more realistic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Megan | 2/2/2014

    " Pulitzer prize winning novel - well written, compelling characters, great story. For my friends, too much language and a couple of times just gross. I don't know why character development has to include things that make you say "ew gross!" "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rosemary | 1/14/2014

    " Great character development and engaging narrative spoiled by the dozens of improbable events jam-packed into the last 30 pages of the book. Russo should have consulted with his wife to ask how she pulled off a contrived ending so beautifully in The Blind Assassin. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea | 1/2/2014

    " Miles Roby is living out a kind of modern-day, self-imposed, indentured servitude in his hometown of Empire Falls - running the Empire Grill and continually deferring to its harsh, dynastic but owner: Mrs. Francine Whiting. She rules from her opulent estate in town, concealing her crippled daughter's past and detaching herself from Cindy's many personal issues, and playing on Miles penchant for acting in kindness over what is good for his own welfare. Also, Roby's wife has left him for a regular customer a the Grill - and Miles endures this patron's continued arrogant ribbing. The one bright spot in his life is his daughter Tick - who is dealing with her own vulnerabilities. She faces the impending disaster with admirable bravery, as does Miles. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jen | 1/1/2014

    " This book, this town, these characters... I was so swept up in it all that I devoured this book in just a few days. I have found a new author -- I can't wait to dive into Richard Russo's entire catalogue of books! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 MaryAnne | 12/29/2013

    " excellent book! an easy read, yet still thought provoking this is an author I will read more of. Finished Rooms, also good "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caron Gibson | 12/26/2013

    " Definitely drew you in to the characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kevin | 12/3/2013

    " pretty good. slow at times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Trina | 12/2/2013

    " Was actually a little bit surprised, but I liked this book. In the beginning I thought it was a little slow and wasn't quite sure wher it was going. But the more I read, the harder it was to put it down. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 M | 11/26/2013

    " Interesting book. I read it for a book club. It could have used some editing in the middle, but the end was certainly noty expected. I was reading the last 80 pages in the evening, after a long slog through the first 400. Wow!! Did not exptect that! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pgeren | 11/13/2013

    " Excellent story - very well written - a 2002 Pulitzer Prize winner. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jscorse | 8/2/2013

    " Started out well but it becomes preposterous. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nan | 7/31/2013

    " Had a hard time sticking with this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian Grover | 5/18/2013

    " Predictably excellent. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Toni Roberts | 5/9/2013

    " I'd give this book 3.75 stars if I could (not quite good enough for a 4 star rating). A thick book and a slow beginning. The author has a knack for complex characters. I'm glad I read it, although I did leave it in the condo we rented in Kauai. Didn't love it enough to keep the book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jim Bouchard | 3/12/2013

    " This was tough to get in to- I'm glad I stuck it out! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 1/16/2013

    " Enjoyed the read but it took me a long time to get through it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sean Dennison | 12/27/2012

    " Can you give a book more than five stars? Because this would be one of those books. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cheri | 11/19/2012

    " For whatever reason, I am not connecting with this book. Have put it down and then picked it up several times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lue | 11/5/2012

    " Richard Russo is another wonderful storyteller. You can't go wrong. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Zoozoojane | 9/21/2012

    " He's a beautiful writer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristine | 8/14/2012

    " Wow, what an ending. It seemed to take a long time to get there, 483 pages worth. But, I have to say it was worth it. Russo's writing reminds me of Stephen King at times, great characters with real personalities, love 'em or hate 'em types. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lainy | 7/12/2012

    " I really enjoyed this book it was a great rainy day read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kristen | 1/29/2012

    " its been a long time that i gave up reading a book halfway through because it was so boring. sorry empire falls, thumbs down! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 deanne pearson | 1/16/2012

    " A meandering run-on sentence of a book, it was a pleasant read punctuated by an unexpected but not altogether untelegraphed ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bradford | 1/15/2012

    " Russo so neatly balances dark and light, humor and pathos, character and story, setting and society that I feel enlarged as well as entertained by his novels. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alanmartinson | 10/18/2011

    " Great until the last 30 pages or so. Thoroughly disappointing ending, as if the author just decided to end it in the most dramatic fashion without really thinking about how it fit into the storyline to that point. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shirley | 10/14/2011

    " One of the most delightful experiences in reading I've had in quite some time. i wish I had discovered Russo long ago. This book was thoroughly engaging, tilting between pathos and humor, with a penchant for capturing human nature at its best and worst. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caron | 10/13/2011

    " Definitely drew you in to the characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heidi | 10/13/2011

    " Really well written. At times I laughed so hard I cried...especially when he was describing the actions of Timmy the Cat. The book does, however, take a rather gruesome turn near the end that made sense although I was hoping it wouldn't go there.

    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott | 10/13/2011

    " One of the best novels I've ever read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Janet | 10/12/2011

    " Although well written, this book was way too tedious. There was no need for the level of detail he got down to. The reader can clearly figure a lot of it out if led down the path properly. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Psalm | 9/29/2011

    " Luv'd this one. Miles is one of the most endearing, sensitive characters you just can't help but root for. Russo knows how to write about the human experience in a real way. You feel the writer's heart w/out going down corny street. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christophe | 9/26/2011

    "
    After Bridge of Sighs again a great book by Richard Russo. I was feeling uneasy this morning realizing I turned the last page. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kris | 9/22/2011

    " This is one of my all time favorite books. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cindy | 9/20/2011

    " Long book-kinda enjoyable. It rarely happens but the movie was much better.
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gavin | 9/18/2011

    " Russo does an incredible job of telling the tale of everyday America. The setting is New England, but the issues could be anywhere in America. "

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About the Author
Author Richard Russo

Richard Russo is the author of Empire Falls, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He also wrote the screenplay for the HBO miniseries adapted from Empire Falls. He is also the author (and coscreenwriter) of Nobody’s Fool, which was made into a major film starring Paul Newman. He lives in Camden, Maine, and Boston with his wife.

About the Narrator

Ron McLarty is a veteran actor of television, film, and stage as well as an award-winning audiobook narrator. He has more than 100 television appearances to his credit, including as a series regular on Spencer for Hire and Law & Order. His film career began in 1977 with a performance in The Sentinel and continued with such films as The Postman, Flamingo Kid, and, most recently, How Do You Know? His stage credits include Broadway and other productions. He has narrated more than 100 audiobooks, earning eight Earphones Awards and recognition by AudioFile magazine as a Best Voice in Mystery & Suspense in 2009 and 2010. He has twice been a finalist for the prestigious Audie Awards and then won the award in 2001 for Best Mystery Narration. He is also an accomplished playwright and an acclaimed novelist.