March 31, 2008

Empire Falls discussion question

Posted in Empire Falls at 4:59 pm by mrsavery

Here is a question to get us started. I have finished section 1 – didn’t get the memo – sorry!

Richard Russo’s description of town of Empire Falls is as memorable and vivid as his portraits of the people who live there. How do the details he provides about the town’s setting and its streets, buildings and neighborhoods create more than a physical backdrop against which the story is played out? How does the use of flashbacks strengthen the sense of the town as a “living” character?



  1. cakequeen2 said,

    so far I am still reading chapter one. I am trying to get a sense of Miles, Tick, and the whole crew. I haven’t gotten a “feel ” yet for much of anything, except that Empire Falls is a beaten, run down, upstate Maine town. there’s a line about the harsh winters in chpt. 1, and it is SO true! I do love Maine, but I must admit that I am second guessing my desire to retire there after reading the little bit that I have so far!

  2. Ms. Davis said,

    Having grown up in a small town, I definitely feel a connection to the town of Empire Falls. When you live in a town like that everyone knows everything anyone else does. It’s bizarre because at some levels it is comforting to know that when you walk into the only store in town, or the only diner in town, you will know everyone you see. Conversely, it is really, really irritating to know that they also know you and your every move. Small towns seem quaint and charming to the outsider, but when you live there, it is sometimes another matter entirely. I don’t regret that I grew up in a small town – if you could even call it a “town” – but I am happy that I don’t live there now. I’m not suggesting that all small towns are like this, but it just so happens that I lived in one. 🙂

  3. Sally said,

    I am definitely seeing the town as a metaphor for the lives of its residents. Just as the town is stuck in the past, falling apart, closed off and somewhat bitter and hopeless, but nonetheless trying to hang on to some sense of past glories, so too are its people.

    Everyone in the town either seems to be trying to recapture something they lost somewhere along the way (Janine) or has fallen into the same state of disrepair or sense of despair that the town has.

  4. mrsavery said,

    I love the metaphor connection Sally! I see the Silver Fox in the same light as Janine. The descriptions of him and his mannerisms bring the old “he thinks he’s God’s gift to women” saying to mind. I don’t know how Myles can stand to have him there at the Grill. I also wonder how long he and Janine will end up being together with their big egos.

  5. Ms. Davis said,

    I’m so glad this novel ends with the town beginning to be revitalized – it give the reader hope for Miles and Tick. I wonder, though, if the town is going to change if Tick will leave or stay. I want a sequel! 🙂

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