Everybody’s Fool

Originally published May 2016

Sometimes fiction is the best way to explain away the real world.

The universe in which Richard Russo’s characters reside—the town of North Bath, New York—makes for an everyman’s kind of setting. That small working class town that can’t seem to catch a break. Either you grew up there, or you have a friend that did. Few actually stick around, but those that do? Well, they are the fabric from which Russo weaves tales of desperation and heartbreak and revenge and friendship and frutration and love.

Everybody’s Fool” is a follow up to 1993’s “Nobody’s Fool”—full disclosure here—a book I did not read yet. But the beauty of this sequel is that it’s not necessary to have read the first book. Russo’s latest has several plot threads running through it, and yes, Donald “Sully” Sullivan figures prominently. But if books have heroes, then Chief of Police Douglas Raymer is the star of the show.

Meet Richard Russo on May 14 in Wilmette! Russo will be on hand to talk about both “Nobody’s Fool” and “Everybody’s Fool” as part of Wilmette Public Library’s “One Book, Everybody Reads” program. The author visit will be at Wilmette Junior High, 620 Locust Rd., at 2 p.m. No tickets required.

Poor, sweet Doug—as human as literary characters come, complete with a full deck of neuroses and zero self-esteem. It’s within these pages that Doug, along with the rest of us, learns to forgive the people he loves the most for their faults and subsequently begins to understand that those faults, often times, are not the result of anything he did or did not do in a relationship. “Everybody’s Fool” is about Doug coming to grips with the near-dissolution of his marriage and no answer as to why, seeing as he discovered his wife was preparing to leave him the day she met her maker.

There are other stories to tell, too–and like any small town, most are overlapping. Doug’s obsession with discovering Becca’s paramour spills over into a middle-of-the-night grave robbing stunt with Sully, Rub and Carl. Carl’s coping with crippling debt that leaves him at the mercy of his once-nemesis Sully’s good graces. Rub is trying to understand why he can’t have Sully all to himself. Sully is wondering whether he’ll wake up tomorrow. And when a cop is the protagonist in a novel, chances are at some point, evil comes to town. Here’s to hoping Doug and Sully can stop it.

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