This is such a fascinating collection of essays that touch upon important moments—of different sizes—that help illustrate Russo's points on his life and career throughout the years. Down-to-earth and unassuming—like his fiction—I loved every page. — Alex Bell
"It turns out that Russo the nonfiction writer is a lot like Russo the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. He is affably disagreeable, wry, idiosyncratic, vulnerably bighearted, a craftsman of lubricated sentences."—Jay Fielden, New York Times Book Review
A master of the novel, short story, and memoir, the best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Everybody's Fool now gives us his very first collection of personal essays, ranging throughout writing and reading and living.
In these nine essays, Richard Russo provides insight into his life as a writer, teacher, friend, and reader. From a commencement speech he gave at Colby College, to the story of how an oddly placed toilet made him reevaluate the purpose of humor in art and life, to a comprehensive analysis of Mark Twain's value, to his harrowing journey accompanying a dear friend as she pursued gender-reassignment surgery, The Destiny Thief reflects the broad interests and experiences of one of America's most beloved authors. Warm, funny, wise, and poignant, the essays included here traverse Russo's writing life, expanding our understanding of who he is and how his singular, incredibly generous mind works. An utter joy to read, they give deep insight into the creative process from the prospective of one of our greatest writers.
About the Author
RICHARD RUSSO is the author of eight novels, most recently Everybody's Fool and That Old Cape Magic; two collections of stories, with Trajectory published in 2017; and the memoir Elsewhere. In 2002 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls, which like Nobody's Fool was adapted to film, in a multiple-award-winning HBO miniseries; in 2016 he was given the Indie Champion Award by the American Booksellers Association; and in 2017 he received France's Grand Prix de Littérature Américaine. He lives in Portland, Maine.
"As a whole, the book is a quest to understand nothing less than why life turns out the way it does . . . He weaves scenes from [his] destiny-swapping years—the gut-punching failures; the life of teaching that enabled the life of writing—with literary long takes, illuminating a winding road trip . . . Perhaps what's most admirable about these essays is their genial and searching tone. In this know-it-all age Russo places his faith in the ideals of art—ambiguity, paradox, heresy, the sublime—over the black-and-white ideologies or our current politics."—Jay Fielden, New York Times Book Review
“All-encompassing. . . . Anyone is search of an eye-opening series of essays by a distinguished writer about writing and the writing life need look no further.”—Robert Allen Papinchak, The National Book Review
“An insightful blend of excellent writing advice, revealing memoir and cogent literary criticism…enriched by glimpses into the humane, generous heart of this talented author.”—Harvey Freedenberg, Shelf Awareness
"A heartfelt exploration of [Russo's] life as a writer."—Chelsea Adelaine Hassler, POPSUGAR “20 Best New Books to Read in May”
"Readers who come to this book in search of the storyteller they know from Russo's fiction will be well-rewarded. . . . [He] proves to be a familiar presence—thoughtful, funny, endearing—and surprising, as well. . . . Russo delivers the cozy intelligence and comic savvy that readers have come to admire."—Joan Silverman, Portland Press Herald
"A remarkable and insightful exploration into the mind of a wonderful writer."—Stuart Shiffman, Book Reporter
"All-encompassing. . . . Anyone in search of an eye-opening series of essays by a distinguished writer about writing and the writing life need look no further.”—Robert Allen Papinchak, The National Book Review
"Captivating . . . generous-hearted essays on writing and life [that] fully display Russo’s trademark warmth and wit, and are marked by a fair dose of unpretentious wisdom and a genuineness that sometimes borders on self-effacement. . . . The Destiny Thief puzzles with the mysteries of what good writing is and what good living is."—Robert Weibezahl, BookPage
"Splendid. . . . These are wise, personal pieces, and readers get to know the author as a comforting, funny, and welcoming guy."—Kirkus
"Certain to please anyone familiar with his short fiction and novels. . . . The unselfconscious voice threading through these nine explorations of writing, writers, and everyday life is a welcome alternative to the all-too-common introspection and fraught ‘literariness’ found in many recent memoir and essay collections from prominent authors. Readers seeking a deeply insightful record of the creative process and the life guiding it will find resonance here."—Library Journal (starred)
"For aspiring writers, Russo's musings on the art and craft of the novel are a trove of knowledge and guidance. For adoring readers, they are a window into the imagination and inspiration for Russo’s beloved novels, screenplays, and short stories. . . . Few authors seem as approachable in print and, one suspects, in person as acclaimed novelist Russo."—Booklist
"Russo’s colorful book offers his novel’s fans more of his dazzling and moving writing, often revealing glimpses of forces that drive a bestselling fiction writer."—Publishers Weekly