Elsewhere - Richard Russo This book is more "mom"-oir than memoir. You won't learn much about Rick Russo except as it relates to his mother's inescapable grip on him. Jean Russo was one doozy of a dippy demanding dame. She taught Rick to think of himself and his mother as essentially one person -- "You and me against the world." Even as an adult, he couldn't break free of her hold on him. For over 35 years he catered to her ridiculous demands, which cost him a fortune financially and mentally. Ever since Rick was a boy, he'd been warned about Mom's "nervous condition." He lived in fear of upsetting her, and she played him like a squeezebox. She never mastered many coping skills, so she compensated by overdeveloping her manipulative muscles. I couldn't decide which of them was more deserving of a good throttling. Mom was so demanding, and full of unreasonable complaints and expectations. Rick was far too accommodating and quick to back down, thus encouraging her absurd behavior. After she died, he figured out that her "nervous condition" was OCD, and late in the book he takes ownership of his role as her enabler. Jean Russo didn't display the classic symptoms of OCD -- hand washing and the like. Her obsession was more expensive. She kept moving from city to city and state to state, essentially following Rick and his wife all over the country. Every time she decided to move again, it was up to Rick to find her an apartment she wouldn't bitch about, and then he'd pay all of her moving costs. This wasn't really a four-star read for me. Jean Russo was just too annoying. The repetitiveness of her demands and complaints and all her moving around got old. I'm rating generously because of the impeccable writing, and because of Rick Russo's honesty and courage in telling this story. There's no sentimentality here, and he's always gentle in his portrayal of his mother, even at her exasperating worst. Late in the book you can see a clear therapeutic benefit for Russo in writing about his mother and himself. If you've enjoyed Russo's novels, you'll discover here how he earned his impressive understanding of comic and tragic familial connections, and of the inner distress of conflicted characters. You'll also see how his hometown of Gloversville, New York served as the prototype for his fictional dying mill towns. Rating = 3.5 stars