I finished Richard Russo’s novel Everybody’s Fool on the flight back to Japan. The book follows the lives of people in the small fictional town of North Bath in upstate New York. Having grown up in a similar small town in northern Michigan, I could relate to the characters, although I realized it has been a while since I’ve been home and my friends today are different to the people I grew up with. Although not as pronounced as Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance, my life has taken a similar trajectory.
Everybody’s Fool takes place in a 48 hour period and is a sequel to Russo’s 1993 “Nobody’s Fool”, which was made into a movie starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Newman. The story gains momentum throughout and I eagerly read the last third to find out what happens. I couldn’t help but have the picture of the actors in my head while reading the book. A great casting job! It also reminded me of the plight of small towns in America in a time of economic globalization. The book is not life-changing, but it is an entertaining read.
I spent the last part of our summer holidays in the small Poconos mountain town of Freeland, Pennsylvania, which is probably quite similar to Russo’s North Bath. I saw plenty of signs of Trump support in Freeland. I agree with Vance that he appeals to whites in small towns because of his blunt way of talking, which differs from the polished and privileged speech of Hillary Clinton. One of the reasons Bernie Sanders appealed to me was that he was not a multimillionaire and I think could relate to average Americans. He has a lot of support in middle class urban areas similar to Trump in more rural areas.