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Meeting Richard Russo
February 24, 2012 - Bill Ackerbauer
Union College's Memorial Chapel was the center of the universe yesterday. How could I be anywhere else? As a Johnstown native and an alumnus of the college, as well as a writer, English teacher, Leader-Herald staffer and all-around literature freak, I was thrilled on many levels to get the chance to hear Richard Russo speak there.
Russo, of course, is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Empire Falls" and numerous other novels inspired by his upbringing right here in our humble Glove Cities. I have a story in today's edition that offers a quick summary of his remarks at the college and the news that he's written a memoir due to be released this fall. Local folks who have spent the last 20 years trying to decode his fiction for its links to real people and events here will surely be interested in this non-fictional work.
Mr. Russo was gracious enough to sign my copy of his novel "Bridge of Sighs," and we chatted for a few minutes about his next book and his correspondence with Vincent DeSantis, the retired city judge who is one of the intrepid souls trying to drag Gloversville kicking and screaming out of its economic and cultural doldrums.
I wrote today's article on a tight deadline; it just scratches the surface. Much more remains to be said about Russo's influence on his hometown and the community's effort to revitalize itself, so stay tuned for a longer story.
Here's a shot of me awkwardly asking for the author's autograph:
The college has posted this video from the proceedings:
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