DISCLAIMER: Because of my complete Richard Russo adoration, this review could suffer from some bias.
Everybody’s Fool is the sequel to Russo’s 1993 novel, Nobody’s Fool. Since the latter goes down as my top book of all time, I approached this one with some trepidation. It was all for naught. In my mind, the new book is virtually flawless.
Set in the imaginary town of North Bath in upstate New York, Everybody’s Fool tracks most of the same characters from the first novel. This one, however, shifts the focus from Sully, who was front and center in Nobody’s Fool, and places it on Doug Raymer, the dense town cop who was routinely the butt of Sully’s shenanigans in book one. The transfer of power is appropriate, though, as Sully has mellowed in his twilight years and Raymer matures into the man he is supposed to be in book two.
Russo’s story telling remains beyond reproach. And while everything in the book is threaded together, some chapters are so well written and self-contained they could stand alone as novellas or short stories. Take, for instance, the chapter about Rolfe Waggenengneckt (AKA Boogie Woogie) and the snakes. Without giving spoilers, know this is a rollicking side story that will have you simultaneously laughing and wondering how Russo comes up with his ideas.
The book is about everything and nothing. It follows regular people living out their lives in a small northeastern town. It touches on racism, but with gentle strokes rather than the brash in your face-ness seen so often recently. It has all the trappings of a classic tale. There is love, heartache, a villain, revenge, forgiveness, and redemption.
Didn’t read Nobody’s Fool? Doesn’t matter; although, you would do yourself a favor to do so. Russo lays enough groundwork in Everybody’s to make reading Nobody’s optional. In fact, after more than twenty years, I find it difficult to remember much of the original one. I just remember that I loved it. I loved this one too, and did a happy-sad cry at the end during that moment of bliss when a book ends just as it should.
Elizabeth's rating: 5 stars