I dropped Elsewhere by Richard Russo into the “return here” slot at my library the other day with some hesitation.
My shabby bookmark sat more than halfway to the end of Russo’s memoir but I really could not go on. It’s rare that I stop reading a book, even if I’m bored. I anticipate that it will get better, or that the end will be the redemption.
Perhaps it’s important that I rarely read memoirs. Russo’s life was plenty interesting — he detailed the struggle he faced with a mother who believed that they were one person and thus should always be together. It seemed that he was slow to realize, or unwilling, that his mother had dealt with real mental illness her entire life.
What drew me to the book initially, though I had only seen Russo’s name attached to the excellently edited “Best American Short Stories 2010”, was a NPR interview. It was exciting to wait for Russo’s book to become available at my local library. I like finding books that have familiar topics and might inspire me to write about my feelings on them. In this case, I thought I could empathize with having a close family member affected Alzheimer’s.
Perhaps if it was fiction. Perhaps if the writing style was different. I appreciated the push-and-pull of Russo’s relationship with his needy mother in a literary way. Unfortunately, I didn’t want to stick around until the end — I let go of the painful read before it was due back.
If anyone else takes a swing at this book, let me know. I’m curious about your take on Elsewhere. Share your experience in the comments section below.