Chances Are

Chances Are

Book - 2019 | First edition.
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"[Russo's] first novel in ten years hits the ball out of the park. . . . You'll lap up this gripping, wise, and wonderful summer treat." -- The Boston Globe

"A cascade of charm. . . . Russo is an undeniably endearing writer, and chances are this story will draw you back to the most consequential moments in your own life."-- The Washington Post

One beautiful September day, three men in their late sixties convene on Martha's Vineyard, friends ever since meeting in college in the sixties. They couldn't have been more different then, or even today--Lincoln's a commercial real estate broker, Teddy a tiny-press publisher, and Mickey is a musician beyond his rockin' age. But each man holds his own secrets, in addition to the monumental mystery that none of them has ever stopped puzzling over since a Memorial Day weekend right here on the Vineyard in 1971. Now, forty-five years later, three lives and that of a significant other are put on displaywhile the distant past confounds the present ina relentless squall of surprise and discovery. Shot through with Russo's trademark comedy and humanity, Chances Are . . . introduces a new level of suspense and menace that will quicken the reader's heartbeat throughout this absorbing saga.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2019.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781101947746
Branch Call Number: FIC RUSSO
Characteristics: 301 pages


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Oct 03, 2020

An intimate portrayal of the enduring friendship between three men, over the course of 44 years.
Reviewed in the United States on October 2, 2020
I am usually all about the plot. For a fantastic plot I may be willing to overlook some things that would drive other readers batty. Surprisingly enough, I really found myself enjoying CHANCES ARE, even though it, in my opinion, didn't have much in the way of a plot.

CHANCES ARE felt like taking a meandering, slow, lazy bike ride through a beautiful forest, all alone, but bathed in warm sunshine and surrounded with the smells and sounds of nature. The farther you travel, the more relaxed you become and the more open you are to the experience. I found myself enjoying the book more and more, the further I read. I found I didn't miss the insubstantial plot, as i fell into the characters and the rhythm of the excellent writing

CHANCES ARE is about a reunion of 3 college roommates, who have remained friends, but see each other infrequently. During college they were all smitten with the same girl, someone they all considered out of their league. She disappeared the last time they were all together at a beach house in Martha' Vineyard.

Being back together brings up memories and a need to find out what happened to their female friend, 44 years earlier. The book tells each of their stories, how they were raised and what happened to them in the years since they were in college.

Everything is understated and the relationship drama between the old friends is minimal. This probably reflects the way men who are friends, tend to relate to each other, as opposed to the more intense way that female friendships and male/female friendships tend to play out. Anyway, it all felt very intimate and authentic, like being afforded a peak into the real lives of real people.

An intimate portrayal of the enduring friendship between three men, over the course of 44 years.

Sep 13, 2020

I recently became enamored of Russo and loved Everybody's Fool which I gave 5 stars.
Perhaps, I liked that book because I was unfamiliar with the cultural context of the hardscrabble Appalachian blue collar culture, and the humor was infective.
This cultural context of three male baby boomers who attended college together in the late 60s and were reuniting 40 years later, was something I knew and lived, but did not find it quite authentic. The Harley riding hard living guitar player Mickey seemed a cliche to this old hippy as did the central mysterious character, Jacy, who they had all loved and had disappeared. She was the heroine- tough mischievious adventurer- but I didnt see a believable character there. Nor was the plot line of her adoptive parents and father- too contrived.
Given those complaints, there is a lot of power in his well built plot centered on unravelling the mystery of Jacy's disappearance 40 years prior, which was a page turner. He is a good mystery writer.

Jul 30, 2020

Russo's tale is a bit less humorous than many of his novels, but his deft touch and light-hearted but devastatingly insightful observation of humanity makes for an excellent read. Look for poignant commentary on generations from the Vietnam War to the 2016 election.

Jan 25, 2020

No point in repeating the 4-5 star comments but do want to note the draft notice lottery scenes - good for those too young to remember what that was like. If you love Russo, read his The Straightman - superb!

ArapahoeAnnaL Jan 10, 2020

Life journeys through the passion of youth, acceptance of older middle age, and possibilities for going on.

The scene with four friends drunkenly linking arms under a seaside moon and crooning joyfully could only happen in the exuberance of youth. What does life look like for long-time friends at age 66?

Dec 06, 2019

Well written novel whose main characters are three men, each dwell on their lost love of the same woman they hung out with in college.

Now 66, Lincoln. Teddy and Mickey gather for a final weekend at Lincoln.s cottage in Cape Cod. What happened to Jacy/ Where is she? Is she even still alive? How did the Viet Nam war draft outcome affect their lives?

Very different from female based main characters who would deal with a similar situation.

ACL_ChrisS Nov 19, 2019

The parts about the main characters' early lives are enjoyable and the writing is excellent. However, I feel the ending is rushed. Also don't read this book if you are looking for a balance of male and female characters.

Sep 27, 2019

This is a story of three fairly decent men and the ghost they can’t stop
Richard Russo’s well-crafted novel is a story of boomer success and
Individual failing...tucked behind a mystery of the woman’s whereabouts.
The importance is not in finding her, but in how they pivot adolescent
Disappointment into an emotional space of adult acceptance.

Sep 25, 2019

I was fascinated but mildly disappointed in 'Chances Are...', however that will NOT prevent my eager hope and expectation of and for whatever Richard Russo writes next. He's in my top 5 of favorite authors.

It was difficult for me to see where 'Chances Are...' was going. However the character development is fascinating. That they did not recognize their own growth nor each others (and, sometimes, their lack of it), and their limited understanding of it, is compelling.

"Was this what we wanted from our oldest friends? Reassurance that the world we remember so fondly still exists? That it hasn't been replaced by a reality we're less fully committed to?"

It takes this reunion weekend and a haunting mystery of their youth to allow them to examine themselves, their relationships - especially with their parents, their fathers in particular, how they got where they are and how they will go forward with this knowledge.

"How many times as a boy had he asked his parents for help only to have them snatch the paper or pen out of his hand and just do whatever it was that he needed help with, as if his presence in their lives and incessant demands on their lives were just too exhausting for words. Clearly, he wasn't worth their effort. If he had been, they'd have gladly spent time with him."

I sincerely hope that quote, nor any of the characters family histories did not come from the author's experience.

4.5 stars

smc_1 Sep 23, 2019

Fabulous writing, well-developed, complex characters, compelling plot! You can never go wrong with Richard Russo.

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