The Risk Pool is a thirty-year journey through the lives of Sam Hall, a small-town gambling hellraiser, and his watchful, introspective son Ned. When Ned's mother Jenny suffers a breakdown and retreats from her husband's carelessness into a dream world, Ned becomes part of his father's seedy nocturnal world, touring the town's bars and pool halls, struggling to win Sam's affections while avoiding his sins.
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If Russo's books possessed only their big-hearted, endlessly revisitable characters, that would be enough. That they also possess belting story lines about broken families, comically recalcitrant pensioners, small-town decay and the indelibility of roots sometimes seems like an act of unparalleled literary generosity - Sunday Times
Perhaps if it was pointed out that here was a US writer who stood somewhere between Anne Tyler at her darkest and Russell Banks, with an occasional hint of Richard Ford at his least bleak, perhaps Russo would become as widely read as he deserves to be - Irish Times
No one writing today catches the detail of life with such stunning accuracy -
Charms readers with its humour and refreshes with it's vast, Dickensian cast of characters - Guardian
Russo proves himself a master at evoking the sights, feelings and smells of a town... Superbly original and maliciously funny - New York Times Book Review
Richard Russo won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for his fifth novel, Empire Falls. He is also the author of Mohawk, Nobody’s Fool, Straight Man, Bridge of Sighs and That Old Cape Magic, as well as a collection of stories, The Whore’s Child. His original screenplay is the basis for Rowan Atkinson’s film Keeping Mum. He lives with his wife in Maine and in Boston.