April 27, 2008

I meant to go to bed. Honestly!

Posted in Empire Falls at 11:12 pm by Ms. Davis

It is midnight, and although I have been tired since about 7:30 this evening, I am still up. I picked up Empire Falls when I got into bed, thinking I would read a couple pages and then fall asleep. Boy, was I wrong. I believe everyone is now done with the book, but just in case someone isn’t, I won’t spoil anything. All I can say is “WOW!” That last section really packed a punch or two (or twelve!) I am thoroughly impressed with this novel, and will definitely be looking to read other books by Richard Russo. Now, to the task at hand!

What do you think? There are so many different themes to talk about with this novel, it’s hard to pick a direction. Here is another discussion question to get us going. If you have another idea or theme to examine, by all means, post away! 🙂

“In contemplating the past year, Tick says, “Just because things happen slow doesn’t mean you’ll be ready for them. If they happened fast, you’d be alert for all kinds of suddenness. . . “Slow” works on an altogether different principle, on the deceptive impression that there’s plenty of time to prepare” [p. 441]. How does this relate to the novel as a whole and the way it is structured? Why has Russo chosen Tick to express this insight?”



  1. cakequeen2 said,


    I have been so slow in completing this book, but I AM enjoying it……..I will not go to this website until I am finished, so the rest of you, blog on!

  2. Ms. Davis said,

    When I read this bit in the book, I was struck by the fact that it was Tick that was speaking. I’m not sure why Russo chose her (yet) but I definitely think it relates to the novel as a whole on various levels. First of all, the physical length and structure of the book/story itself is addressed here. The first part of this novel is slow compared to the last section, and you’d think that the reader would have enough time to prepare for the end. However, I was completely taken by surprise by the turn(s) at the end of this novel. I was unprepared for them, despite the gradual build up throughout the story.
    Also, think of all the things that move slowly in this novel: Miles and Janine’s divorce, the decline of the town, the possible rebirth of the town, and… oh, I just thought of this… Cindy moves awfully slowly, too. Hmmmm.

  3. cakequeen2 said,

    Well, I have just finished this novel, but now I feel the need for more time so that I may digest it all.

    What a sorry state of affairs for all of the characters!
    Bea, Janine, the Silver Fox, Charlie Whiting (Mayne), Mrs. Whiting, Cindy, Tick, John Voss, David, Grace…..good grief, the list is endless!
    What struck me most throughout this book is the chain of events that cannot be broken or erased. It is as if a dark cloud hovers over Empire Falls. Russo does a great job of showing us the futility of wanting to change things that cannot be changed. Each one of them has demons to overcome, but never really succeed.
    One part that really bothered me was Miles “talking ” to Charlie on the Vineyard at the end. I was unprepared for Charlie’s refusal to forgive Miles his sin of just being. To me, this spoke of the recurring theme of the uselessness of their lives, and of that fact that they solely existed without purpose or resolve.

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