After eight commanding works of fiction, Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo now turns to memoir in a hilarious, moving and always surprising account of his life, his parents, and the upstate New York town they all struggled variously to escape.
Louis Charles “Lucy” Lynch has spent his whole life in Thomaston, a small town in upstate New York. He’s married to Sarah, the girl he fell in love with in high school, owns and operates three convenience stores, including the corner grocery he inherited from his parents, and is perfectly content with his well-established routines and the familiar rhythms of Thomaston. At the age of sixty, as he and Sarah plan their first-ever trip away from home, he looks back on his life, weaving memories into a history of his family and his town. He writes about his outgoing father, who believed fully in the American Dream and loved him unconditionally, and about his critical but caring mother, whose realistic view of life provided the necessary balance to his father’s naïveté and idealism. His descriptions of his childhood—first in the poorest section of Thomaston and later in the lower middle-class neighborhood where his father buys a modest home and a failing store—capture the small humiliations (like the acquisition of the nickname “Lucy”) and larger terrors of a lonely boy bullied by neighborhood toughs.