May 4, 2008

Think about Tick

Posted in Empire Falls tagged at 9:27 am by Ms. Davis

Why does Tick befriend John Voss? How does her sense of responsibility for him compare to Miles’s feelings, both as a child and as a grown man, about Cindy Whiting? Are the differences attributable to the circumstances that bring each pair together, or do they reflect something deeper about Tick’s and Miles’s morality and their abilities to empathize with other people? What other incidents demonstrate Tick’s understanding of what other people need? Why is she unable to treat Janine in the same comfortable, non-judgmental way she treats Miles and Max Roby?

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Empire Falls: Parents and Children

Posted in Empire Falls tagged at 9:25 am by Ms. Davis

From the almost unimaginable cruelty of John Voss’s parents to Mrs. Whiting’s coldness toward Cindy, to Grace’s withdrawal from David (and to some extent Miles) when she joins the Whiting household, the novel contains several examples of the emotional and physical harm parents inflict on their children. Why do you think Russo made this a central theme of the book? Does it adequately explain or even justify behavior you would otherwise find completely unacceptable?

Empire Falls Discussion, part 12

Posted in Empire Falls tagged at 9:24 am by Ms. Davis

What adjectives would you use to describe Empire Falls? How does Russo make the story of a dying town (with more than its share of losers) entertaining and engaging? Did you find most, if not all, of the characters sympathetic in some way?

Empire Falls Discussion Question: More on small towns

Posted in Empire Falls tagged at 9:20 am by Ms. Davis

What does Empire Falls provide that its residents might not be able to find anywhere else? Does living in a small town necessarily limit the satisfaction people get out of life? Is Miles right when he thinks, “After all, what was the whole wide world but a place for people to yearn for their hearts’ impossible desires, for those desires to become entrenched in defiance of logic, plausibility, and even the passage of time” [p. 295]? Which characters might have led better, more fulfilling lives if they had moved away from Empire Falls?

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

“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?”

Somewhat of a revelation… Empire Falls

Posted in Empire Falls at 7:02 pm by mrsavery

Time to be humble – I was telling my favorite librarian (FL) the other day that until I got quite far into Part 4, I was unaware that this was such a contemporary novel! Closing textile mills to me meant mid to a bit later 20th century, and I guess I let that cloud or fog the other clues. FL thought that was something I should share, so here it is! Is there anyone else that may have been blind in this respect? ๐Ÿ™‚

April 13, 2008

Empire Falls: Baseball Mitt

Posted in Empire Falls tagged , at 11:19 am by Ms. Davis

So, I realize that I am behind, but I just finished Part 1 in Empire Falls. I would like to know what you think of the baseball mitt. What do you think it is symbolic of? What does it mean that Miles left it behind? It was so very important that Miles be able to bring it on their vacation, but unimportant enough by the end of the vacation to forget it.

I’m thinking it represents Miles’ youthful innocence. He’s had one of those “you can never go home again” experiences on Martha’s Vineyard. Even though Grace says at the end, “Nothing’s going to change. Not one thing,” the truth is that everything has changed. Miles has gone from the child’s way of perceiving his parents to a more honest perception of them, and that makes all the difference in the world.

I’m still trying to work out how the amazing catch at the beginning of this flashback factors in, and all the other baseball connections. Leave it to me, sports fan, to focus on this aspect of the book right now. ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope you are all enjoying this book – it has certainly grown on me. What are you thinking about it?

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?

March 30, 2008

Empire Falls: Pushed back!

Posted in Empire Falls at 8:43 pm by Ms. Davis

I think I touched base with everyone, but just in case I didn’t: the date for the first section of Empire Falls has been pushed back to April 6 or so. Let’s get back to the book!

Happy reading!

March 17, 2008

New Book: Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Posted in Empire Falls at 3:38 pm by Ms. Davis

Empire Falls is divided into four sections, so I thought we would try to tackle one section a week, starting next week. Let’s plan on having the Prologue and Part 1 read by March 30. From there we will decide if the pace is too slow or too fast. ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy!