Marriage Story
Marriage Story
Marriage Story
Ebook44 pages40 minutes

Marriage Story

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars



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“In this clear-eyed and deeply moving essay, Richard Russo gives a hard second look at a story he thought he knew—his parents’ divorce—and finds not only a more expansive personal history, but a more expansive American history. It’s a course of self-reflection, compassion, and connection we would all do well to follow.” —Ann Patchett

“I have watched in wonder for years as Richard Russo has danced as elegantly as Fred Astaire. It is almost impossible to see any move that is not masterful in his prose. This piece is gorgeous, hard as diamonds, and ultimately profoundly moving.” —Luis Alberto Urrea

Who better to take on America’s current class war and its complex, moving parts than Richard Russo? The Pulitzer Prize–winning author is a giant in American letters, beloved by critics and readers alike. Among his gifts are the comedy and compassion he brings to bear in his stories; his effortless style, as readable as it is elegant; and his near-singular ability to capture the lives of America’s working class, the men and women who hail from factory and mill towns that have been left behind as the global economy evolves. Russo was born and raised in such a town—Gloversville, New York—and it’s to this setting he returns in his Scribd Original memoir Marriage Story to chronicle his parents’ lives and why their marriage, ultimately, never had a prayer. His mother and father didn’t share the same faith in America, and their divergent beliefs—one pessimistic, one optimistic—separated them from each other, and sometimes from reality, revealing tensions that Russo’s been writing about ever since.

Through this story of his parents and grandparents and his own departure from both a town and a way of life, Russo declares himself a poster boy for the American Dream and also a well-placed critic of it and of this country’s “brutal contradictions.” His dark-skinned father was the son of Southern Italian immigrants, never quite like the other guys, and yet he was like any other G.I. home from World War II: He did backbreaking work on a road crew, and at night he left his family at home to frequent the local poker rooms. He did not believe that his son, whose name ended in a vowel, would ever be “allowed” to succeed. His mother, the more hopeful of the two, believed hard work and education were the answer to everything that ailed the working class and immigrants alike, refusing to concede to the systemic inequities and disadvantages of ethnicity, race, class, and gender that often made the obstacles to climbing the ladder too great, as they did, in many ways, for her.

A touchingly personal and peculiarly American tale, as topical as it is timeless, Marriage Story speaks directly to the raw material from which so much of today’s divisive political climate has been forged. During the most recent election, the author writes, “many of my friends talked about leaving the country.” But not Russo. “I’ve learned that leaving your home is tricky. If I left my country now, I’d just be repeating myself, having already physically left a place that refused to leave me.” His parents would not have left either, “despite not being able to agree on what America really meant.”

“Maybe it comes down to this,” he writes. “In the end, what do we do with love?”

Release dateApr 13, 2021
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Richard Russo

Richard Russo is the author of nine novels, two collections of short stories, a memoir, and several produced screenplays. Empire Falls won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and his adaptation of the book for HBO was nominated for an Emmy. His collection of essays, The Destiny Thief, will be published in 2018. He and his wife, Barbara, live in Portland, Maine.

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