Willow Springs: Interview with Richard Russo
Richard Russo
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Richard Russo was born and raised in the "Glove Cities," Johnstown and Gloversville, New York, which would become the backdrop for many of his novels. In a 2007 interview with NPR, he said, "I've always had the distinct feeling that there was a ghost version of myself still living back in that place that's still so real in my imagination and that I've been telling fibs about all this time." In "High and Dry," an essay featured in the summer 2010 issue of Granta, Russo revisits his hometown, grappling with the unpleasant history of Gloversville's leather tanning industry.

Russo is the author of seven novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Empire Falls, Bridge of Sighs, and most recently, That Old Cape Magic, as well as a collection of short stories entitled The Whore's Child. His work has appeared in a variety of periodicals, including The New Yorker, Harper's, and Esquire. He's written and co-written screenplays for movies such as the 1998 film Twilight and 2005's The Ice Harvest.

Russo's work has been widely lauded for its humor, its sharp storytelling, and its keen portrayal of the world it inhabits. The New York Times called Bridge of Sighs "an improbably neighborly and nonchalant version of the great American novel." In a review of That Old Cape Magic in the Washington Post, Ron Charles said, "American white guys may have no better ally in the world of fiction than Richard Russo."

We met with Mr. Russo at Spokane's Davenport Hotel, after attending a panel discussion in which he and several other screenwriters talked about the intricacies of adapting novels into films. We discussed the ups and downs of writing partnerships, damaged characters, humor and suffering, Russo's doctoral study despair, and how he discovered that he was going to become a fiction writer.