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'Empire Falls' is a saga which is about the people who live in the city of the same name. The whole town revolves around the family Whiteing, which for generations has driven a spinning mill and a shirt factory in Empire Falls. After these two big factories have closed down, life in the city slowly loose its vitality. The once-affluent neighborhoods are now not so nice, now that many houses are left empty. Most stores are closed, and the remaining ones still standing, fights for their legitimacy and survival while owners are struggling to pay the rent to the Whitening widow, which now owns half of the city (the other half is not worth anything).
Richard Russo are juggling with a large cast of characters in the book, and I must honestly say that I was a little bit nervous about whether I would be able to keep track of all these people and their relationships. But it turned out that it was not a problem at all. Richard Russo manage skillfully, to introduce each person in a logical order and only when the other gallery of people are in place. This is in itself quite an achievement. The reader will quickly feel familiar with Empire Falls and its inhabitants.
I get a little confused when comes to the mood of the book. Richard Russo writes in a very easy and often humorous way. Maybe that is why I have a little difficulty accepting the seriousness of the book, because a lot of things in the book really makes you think. My question regards, whether the book was written as a comedy or a drama, but after considering some pros and cons, I agreed with myself that 'Empire Falls' is a portrayal of life for good and evil. No life is just fun, and no life is just a drama. I believe that Richard Russo must be quite happy with the outcome of 'Empire Falls'. For my part, I just needed to read the book with the right state of mind, but when I first did that, the pleasure was certainly on my side.