There is a type of literary genre which is more and more frequently seen in US literature which consists of a tongue-in-cheek, wisecracking hero (or heroine) who is usually not too successful in life, generally with marital (and/or lover) problems, career problems (because s/he does not fit into the bureaucratic structure where s/he is employed) and problems with the world as a whole but, somehow, during the course of the book, sort of rises above all of this and, at least, survives, if not succeeds. These books tend to be very well written, often very funny and indicative of a population that is at odds with itself and its fellows. There are numerous examples. The Southern archetype is Michael Malone. The Yankee archetype is Richard Russo.
A professor at Colby College in Waterville, Maine and a screenwriter, Russo is also the author of several successful and very funny novels, whose heroes are not successful – indeed, by US standards, they may well be considered failures – but who are survivors, who maintain their sense of humour and who definitely do not play the game. They are, in some respects, the quintessential American cowboy, standing at the fringes of society and with no desire to join in. His novels are about how they somehow come through and maintain their independence, despite the efforts of society to drag them in.
Featured Author: Richard Russo
Is Author Richard Russo A Misogynist?
Text of Richard Russo’s 2004 Commencement Address (at Colby College)
A Novel Take on an Ending (article by Russo)
1988 The Risk Pool
1993 Nobody’s Fool
1997 The Straight Man
2001 Empire Falls
2002 The Whore’s Child and Other Stories
2007 Bridge of Sighs
2009 That Old Cape Magic
2012 Interventions: A Novella & Three Stories (with illustrations by Kate Russo, his daughter)
2012 Elsewhere: A Memoir
2013 Nate in Venice
2016 Everybody’s Fool
2017 Trajectories (stories)
2018 The Destiny Thief: Essays on Writing, Writers and Life
2019 Chances Are (novel)
2023 Somebody’s Fool (novel)