12 August 2014

Elsewhere, by Richard Russo

This is a memoir, and Russo mentions early on that it will be mostly about his mother, and that is quite true. Nevertheless, being an Upstate New York expatriate myself, I found reading about Gloversville and Russo's relationship with the area and its people irresistible.

In fourth grade or thereabouts, we learned some basic area history, and we were taught about the "glove cities" of Fonda, Johnstown, and Gloversville. I don't believe that we were taught quite everything that Russo relates in his book: the horrible working conditions, the disregard for the employees' safety, the environmental destruction, and the overseas flight that the corporations took to avoid the inconvenience of providing a living wage and complying with legal requirements to destroy neither their employees' health nor the quality of the Mohawk River's water.

Russo's account of his life with his mother comprises most of this book. She was a profoundly disturbed individual, but at the same time committed to her son, and determined that he should be a success. His love for her is quite obvious in these pages.

Here's a much better review than I will write.