Elsewhere - Richard Russo

I really liked this book. I have read several books by Russo, so I was interested to see how close his small town settings came to his real life. I was mostly surprised that the book was almost completely about his mother (someone else aptly called it a “mom-oir”). He does acknowledge it at the start, but I still wished for more information about his own life. There was so little said about his wife, their relationship, etc. except to admit her long-suffering acceptance of his “nutty” mother. Because he spoke about the many medications his mother was on at some point earlier in the book, I was shocked at the end to find that he did not realize, until after she died, that she was, in fact, mentally ill. When his father told him before he left for college, “You know she’s crazy, right?” I had been nodding my head. The fact that Russo did not take this seriously, given her many odd reactions to life in general, was incredible. I understand that this was how he was raised, and that, given the fact he was raised by her alone, she was really all he knew regarding normal or otherwise. In any case, this is still a beautiful story. Despite the trials and torments his mother put him through, the love they had for each other is one of the few constants of this story.