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 specialize in unlikely romance. Her charmingly quirky debut, The Giant's House, was the story of a librarian's passion for the world's tallest boy. The equally 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:
You try to recall your wedding day, and you remember a fat man. Or the birth of your first kid, and you remember a fat man. You loved your wife, who died decades ago; you love your kids, who you see once a week. But facts are facts: every time you try to remember anything, the fat man comes strolling into your brain, his hands in his pockets, whiskey on his breath.A vaudeville team that makes the leap to B-movie fame, Carter and Sharp have perfected a classic shtick: the stern professor and the hapless, bumbling Rocky. Offscreen, 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. Sharp's first few encounters with his wife, for example, are like "a pan of warm water inside my chest almost shoulder high, filled but perilous. It was the balancing that amazed me. Every time I thought of when I'd see her, the pan wobbled, but didn't spill, and the feat of carrying it astounded me again." 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 whomever will listen. --Mary ParkFrom the Inside Flap:
By turns graceful and knowing, funny and moving, Niagara Falls All Over Again is the latest masterwork by National Book Award finalist and author of The Giant's House, Elizabeth McCracken.
Spanning the waning years of vaudeville and the golden age of Hollywood, Niagara Falls All Over Again chronicles a flawed, passionate friendship over thirty years, weaving a powerful story of family and love, grief and loss. In it, McCracken introduces her most singular and affecting hero: Mose Sharp — son, brother, husband, father, friend ... and straight man to the fat guy in baggy pants who utterly transforms his life.
To the paying public, Mose Sharp was the arch, colorless half of the comedy team Carter and Sharp. To his partner, he was charmed and charming, a confirmed bachelor who never failed at love and romance. To his father and sisters, Mose was a prodigal son. And in his own heart and soul, he would always be a boy who once had a chance to save a girl's life — a girl who would be his first, and greatest, loss.
Born into a Jewish family in 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.
In a novel as daring as it is compassionate, Elizabeth McCracken introduces an indelibly drawn cast of characters — from Mose's Iowa family to the vagabond friends, lovers, and competitors who share his dizzying journey — as she deftly explores the fragile structures that underlie love affairs and friendships, partnerships and families.
An elegiac and uniquely American novel, Niagara Falls All Over Again is storytelling at its finest — and powerful proof that Elizabeth McCracken is one of the most dynamic and wholly original voices of her generation.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Book Description Vintage/Ebury (a Division of Random, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0099429055