The Risk Pool

  • by Richard Russo
  • Narrated by Sean Mangan
  • 19 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Russo's skillful use of dialogue perfectly suits the audio medium.A wonderfully fun and perceptive novel in the traditions of Thornton Wilder and Anne Tyler, The Risk Pool is set in Mohawk, New York, where Ned Hall is doing his best to grow up, even though neither of his estranged parents can properly be called an adult. Richard Russo gives us a book that overflows with outsized characters and outlandish predicaments and whose vision of family is at once irreverent and unexpectedly moving.


What the Critics Say

"Russo proves himself a master at evoking the sights, feelings, and smells of a town ... [The Risk Pool is] superbly original and maliciously funny." (The New York Times Book Review)"Russo writes with genuine passion and authority; his ear for dialogue is so acute that one can almost hear the characters speaking." (Chicago Tribune)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


Where does The Risk Pool rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the best, without a doubt.

Who was your favorite character and why?

All the characters were beautifully evoked by both the author and narrator.

What about Sean Mangan’s performance did you like?

I'd already listened to a previous reading by Sean Mangan and tracked him down to see what other books he'd narrated. The Risk Pool was one, and I just took a chance on it.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I simply did not want this book to finish. It was something I listened to day and night, I would save it up for long walks or car journeys and relish the experience.

Any additional comments?

Can't recommend the story or storytelling more highly. What a wonderful family saga. All the characters of the small town are superbly drawn. I can't pin it down but there was something special in the way the author describes events. What looks as though it's going to be in chronological order, in fact comes with many surprises as the author plays with our concepts of time. The chronology does get filled out eventually (the story had to end some time) but in many absorbing and imaginative ways ...really very satisfying.

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- Rebecca

Magical Novel

This is Russo's second novel. I have previously read Empire Falls and Nobody's Fool. For the first third of the book I was thinking that this isn't quite so good - a slowly evolving and meandering story about a boy growing up with his mother and then his father. Not quite as involving as the later books but I kept going because Russo's writing exerts a magical effortless spell. This is deceptively simple and beautiful writing that somehow packs depth and portrays a vivid sense of community. Plus, you can expect to experience belly laughs at regular intervals. In the second third I was aware that the pace was still slow but I couldn't leave it because I wanted to keep spending time in the company of these people. I keep wanting to use the word magical because you really do enter a wholly different world! In the final third everything kicks off and the narrative drive tightens. You keep listening because you need to know what is happening next. The comedy is joined by tragedy, and it moved me to tears towards the end.

Russo writes big old fashioned books that are so easy to follow and with a great cast of wonderful characters. It's story telling at it's absolute best. The drinking scenes and scatological conversations are fiercely cruel and funny. Russo perfectly captures the life of the bar room. The ending is nicely drawn and satisfying.

I am curious about why this writer is not more widely recognised. After a life of enjoying Steinbeck, Kesey, Updike and Kerouac, Richard Russo has now become my new favourite author. I want to tell everyone to read him - he's the best author that you've probably never heard of.

Reading this book is an immersion into a family and a local community - it's fun, moving and always believable. I now feel the same sense of loss after finishing this novel that I experienced coming to the end of Nobody's Fool. Thank goodness I have more to read. Straight Man here I come!
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- Amazon Customer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 31-10-2008
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd