Born into a Jewish family in a small town Iowa, the only boy among six sisters, Mose Sharp couldn't leave home soon enough. By sixteen, Mose had already joined the vaudeville circuit. But he knew one thing from the start: I needed a partner, he recalls. I had always needed a partner. Then, an ebullient, self destructive comedian named Rocky Carter came crashing into his life and a thirty year partnership was born. But as the comedy team of Carter and Sharp thrived from the vaudeville backwaters to Broadway to Hollywood, a funny thing happened amid the laughter: it was Mose who had all the best lines offstage. Rocky would go through money, women, and wives in his restless search for love; Mose would settle down to a family life marked by fragile joy and wrenching tragedy. And soon, cracks were appearing in their complex relationship until one unforgivable act leads to another and a partnership begins to unravel.
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Elizabeth McCracken seems to specialise in unlikely romance: the inventive Niagara Falls All Over Again is the story of a vaudevillian's love for the one person he can't be without--his partner in comedic crime and her charmingly quirky debut, The Giant's House, was the story of a librarian's passion for the world's tallest boy.
In Niagara Falls Carter and Sharp, a vaudeville team that makes the leap to B-list film fame, have perfected a classic shtick: the stern Professor and the hapless, bumbling Rocky. Off screen, however, their roles are reversed. Mose Sharp is mild-mannered and accommodating, while Rocky Carter is a jovial bully--the kind of guy, Sharp thinks, who "compared the slices of cake on an arriving dessert tray and got disappointed, really disappointed, when the largest was delivered to somebody who wasn't him".
Show business is a subject tailor-made for McCracken's eccentric gifts. Her timing is impeccable, and she's no slouch with the jokes either. But she's not playing this one just for laughs. As anyone who read The Giant's House knows, McCracken writes prose of uncommon beauty, studded with images both arresting and sad. This second novel is a balancing act on an even greater scale: tender but never sentimental, verbally dexterous but never merely clever. Like its predecessor, Niagara Falls will have you reading aloud to whoever will listen. --Mary Park, Amazon.comReview:
'Deserves a standing ovation…as beautiful a portrait of a very peculiar marriage as you’ll see in print…seductive…sublime storytelling’ -- Independent on Sunday
‘Compassionate, perceptive, generous, this novel shines.' -- John Burnside, Scotsman
‘Deserves a standing ovation…Seductive, sublime storytelling’ -- Independent on Sunday
‘McCracken is a generous author, bestowing gifts on her characters…Graceful and evocative’ -- Daily Telegraph
‘McCracken never falters…Carter and Sharp, and McCracken, should all take a bow’ -- Erica Wagner, The Times
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Book Description Vintage/Ebury (a Division of Random, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0099429055