The Risk Pool

The Risk Pool

by Richard Russo


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A wonderfully funny, perceptive novel 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 adult.

His father, Sam, cultivates bad habits so assiduously that he is stuck at the bottom of his auto insurance risk pool. His mother, Jenny, is slowly going crazy from resentment at a husband who refuses either to stay or to stay away. As Ned veers between allegiances to these grossly inadequate role models, 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.
In the traditions of Thornton Wilder and Anne Tyler, The Risk Pool was hailed by The New York Times as “…superbly original and maliciously funny. Russo proves himself a master at evoking the sights, feelings, and smells of a town.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679753834
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/15/1994
Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 138,467
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.05(d)

About the Author

Richard Russo is the author of eight novels; two collections of stories; and Elsewhere, a memoir. In 2002 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls, which like Nobody’s Fool was adapted to film, in a multiple-award-winning HBO miniseries.


Gloversville, New York

Date of Birth:

July 15, 1949

Place of Birth:

Johnstown, New York


B.A., University of Arizona, 1967; Ph.D., University of Arizona, 1979; M.F.A., University of Arizona, 1980

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The Risk Pool 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not one of his best...dragged on in spots.
bbqbill More than 1 year ago
I read The Risk Pool shortly after original publication, and have re-read it three or four times since. It's one of the most enjoyable reads I've ever experienced. I have read all of his books, and The Risk Pool is Russo's best work. He creates word magic with phrases such as, "He put out what was left of his cigarette with what was left of his thumb". You can't go wrong with this one!
adabelle22 More than 1 year ago
The characters and the storyline brought back fond, and not so fond, memories of the small Louisiana town I grew up in. I recommend reading Mohawk first, then this follow up. The writing is superb! Another winner for Russo.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The kind of book that keeps you up for "5 more minutes..." until you pass out and cant wait to start reading again as soon as you wake up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
buckjohnson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read all of Richard Russo's books, and this is his finest. Russo's characters are nuanced, and he gives an unforgettable depiction of people down on their luck in an upstate New York town that has also seen better days. No writer I've read portrays the father-son dynamic better than Russo, and that dynamic is epitomized here.
wengland on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ned Hall growing up in a small New York town is surrounded by flawed family and friends all struggling to get along - such wonderful characterisation - such perceptive comment on the human condition. I was totally mesmerized by this book and the life of Ned - humorous and sad and so true. I have to read more of Richard Russo.
mhgatti on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Russo¿s books, especially Empire Falls and Nobody¿s Fool. Russo¿s debut, about a small-time hustler trying to raise his kid the best he can, goes right up there with the other two as my favorites. This year I also read Russo¿s Straight Man, about office politics between college professors. It too was very good - maybe his funniest book - but it was not as good as the Risk Pool.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JustMyTwoCents More than 1 year ago
Really a 3-1/2 star novel--the question was whether to round up or down. After reading Richard Russo's recent memoir which focussed on caring for his mother well into adult life, I thought I should revisit some of his  fiction. I had read Empire Falls and enjoyed it very much, so since then I picked up from the library his collection of short stories, and after that Bridge of Sighs. Risk Pool is the last of his books I plan to read for a while. While I enjoy them, his stories seem more to me to be less about plot and more about its characters. The settings so far have always been in small, failing mill towns in upstate New York. While I enjoyed the read, it seemed to me to be far too long, and I eventually tired of story after story after story about the narrator's father, his drinking exploits, and his negligent parenting. I simply didn't like the father, and felt annoyed that Russo seemed to want me to like him or at least feel sorry for him at the end. I didn't. At the same time, isn't that how life is? Sometimes the people who do all the wrong things are the most beloved because they are "fun" and the people who do all the right things, are treated with far less admiration. I felt that way about the lawyer who eventually married Ned's mother. Long suffering, and patient, he seemed to me the only one in the story who really looked out for Ned both as a child and into adulthood. Yet Ned seemed to have little appreciation for him. His mother never loved him. And his father beat him up. Unfortunately, while I didn't like a lot of the character's behaviors, they also rang true to life and Russo was adept at making that point--like it or not. Still, at the end of the novel, I closed the book and was done with it. I felt no sadness that the story had come to an end. For that reason, I found it a good story, but not a great one.-
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Lotus Description: A white shecat with pinkish ears, tail, paws and stripe down her back. She has green eyes. Age: About 25 Personality: Caring, Compassionate, Funny Bio: She and Blaze were kittypets until their twolegs house burned down. Other info: After the fire, Blaze taught her to hunt and fight. She misses her twolegs. Although Lotus isn't the best at anything, she truly tries her best to be good at everything. __________________________________________________________________________ Name: Blaze Description: A black tom with strange orange eyes. Age: About 25 moons Personality: Quiet, Kind, and Protective Bio: Same as Lotus Other info: Blaze was glad when the fire happened, and had already learned to hunt and fight. He is espically good at hunting, and would do anything to rid himself of the horrible nightmares he has every night.
bigbox2610 More than 1 year ago
I have read everything Richard Russo has written and this is absolutely the BEST. So good in fact, this is the second time I've read it. Probably not the last. Do yourself a favor, get this book, and read least twice!
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Oh my
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello! And Skylar my real name is Skylar! And my nickname is Sky. I am a girl. U? And its uncommon for Skylar to be spelled with an a!
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I didnt enjoy the sample.It was kinda gross.....woulda given 0 stars if I could.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey ppl