Richard Russo is one of my favorite authors, so when I saw this on the “HOT PICKS” shelf at my library I was intrigued. It was fun to get some insight into his life, inspiration and musings, but I won’t be recommending this as much as I recommend his fiction.
I enjoyed the stories on writing and life, in particular where he shared the graduation speech he gave to the graduating class of 2004 of Colby College. As that is also my graduation year that essay allowed me a look back to that time in my life, and his “rules for a good life” have some good nuggets of wisdom though come across as a bit dated. It made me wince a little that he was suggesting marriage and kids are necessary, as that is not everyone’s path. Another interesting essay was “Imagining Jenny” which was about a close friend’s friend’s male to female transition which was raw and honest and intriguing. There were a few other of note that touched on his relationship with his father, and the echos of that relationship and how they have made their way into his fiction, that was neat to see. That being said, now for the negative. Ghe essays on writers were lost on me, I don’t feel like they were particularly accessible or interested to those who are not aspiring writers. I’m not terribly familiar with Mark Twain or Charles Dickens, so the insights were lost on me.
Overall an interesting tome, but not one I would recommend for an end-of-the-year-trying-to-finish-my-cannonball hustle. If I had read it over the course of, say, a month and a half, and given time in between essays I think I would have enjoyed it more.