Empire Falls by Richard Russo: Richard Russo was raised in the rural New York town of Gloversville, once the glove-making capital of the world. However, like many of Russo tales, the town’s economic fortunes dwindled, leaving its residents to deal with the difference between their heyday memories and current plight. Russo is known for humorous depictions of lovable characters living in situations they never imagined themselves in. Empire Falls features Miles Roby: single father, cook, and all-around “nice guy” who is miserable but doesn’t know it. This unlikely hero of Richard Russo’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel realizes that his hometown of Empire Falls, Maine will never recover the glory days when the powerful Whiting Family ran a textile factory that employed the entire town. But he also can’t seem to leave. These days, Miles continues to run the Empire Grill, a restaurant that just manages to hold the community together. The story is both elegiac and realistic: Miles deals with temptation, trauma, and the realities of a working class life as he goes about his work. This novel, sometimes haunting, sometimes funny, is the story of a man’s unplanned and unexpected quest to understand his family, the town he loves despite himself, and how he managed to end up doing the only thing he never wanted to do: stay in Empire Falls for the rest of his life.