Monday, March 25, 2013


Obsessive. If Jean Russo had appeared as a character in one of Richard Russo’s novels, her behavior would have strained my willing suspension of disbelief. I would have dismissed her as an outlier: no one could be believed who is so odd, obsessive, and controlling. Instead, Jean is Russo’s mother, and her behavior provides the focus of attention in the memoir, Elsewhere. Richard Russo is an only child, and Jean was an active demanding presence in his life from his birth in Gloversville, New York, to her death many decades later. At times darkly humorous, and at times sad and bewildering, this memoir presents a close relationship of love and caring, despite unrealizable expectations and heavy demands. I especially enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the many changes in living quarters, from Jean going off to college with Richard, to her pickiness about assisted living accommodations. Any reader whose patience has been strained by any difficult close relationship will delight in reading this finely written memoir. Rating: Five-star (I loved it) Click here to purchase Elsewhere from

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