Read Niagara Falls All Over Again by Elizabeth McCracken Online


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 gSpanning 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 wasMose 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....

Title : Niagara Falls All Over Again
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780965293723
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 308 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Niagara Falls All Over Again Reviews

  • Leslie
    2018-12-08 02:07

    I came to this book at exactly the right time; I needed a book I could sink into. It's not radical or experimental, it won't change the direction of modern fiction or transform your view of the possibilities of narrative. But it's really, really good. It was a pure pleasure to read. The characterisation was wonderfully convincing. It tells the story of Carter and Sharp, a comedy team like Abbot and Costello or Laurel and Hardy, a fat funny man and skinny straight man. Mose (known as Mike professionally) Sharp, who supplies the first-person narrative, was the straight man. He tells the story of his life-- a childhood in a large Jewish family in a small town in Iowa, escape from smothering expectations to the vaudeville stage, and a long, successful career with Rocky Carter. He takes us to the worlds of vaudeville and mid-century Hollywood, through marriages and family and the strains and pleasures of his working and personal relationship with Rocky. I enjoyed every word of this book, even got teary towards the end. The most straightforward pleasure I've gotten from a book in ages.

  • Angela
    2018-12-12 21:54

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. This is the story of a mid-twentieth century comedy act, told by the straight man. They start out in vaudeville and we learn about the arc of their success.It's a very tenderly told story of companionship and love, dependence and emancipation. It's marvelous, I highly recommend this book.This would make a great reading trilogy combined with Carter Beats the Devil and Water for Elephants - all are about people who work in the "golden age" of entertainment, and all have warm, rich stories and deep, thoughtful characters.

  • Jamie
    2018-12-08 00:57

    Don't be fooled into thinking that this story, because it revolves around the lives of two comedic actors, is funny. It is is a nostalgic tragedy, though not overblown, and compelling because of its very human (read: flawed) characters and the way their lives either burst with resilience or crumble into ruin. In the manner of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, it is the covers pulled off a creative collaboration and friendship between two talented men. In the manner of Freedom, it is an ugly reminder of the weight our choices carry and how easily we choose to betray those we claim to love most of all. McCracken tells a damn fine story and, though this particular one didn't resonate deeply with me, it did keep me reading until its bittersweet end.Quote: "I have since learned that this theory is sound: if someone is willing to be brave for you, you are less likely to be brave yourself."

  • Hannah
    2018-12-02 05:08

    This is the "memoir" of Mose Sharp, a Jewish boy from Iowa who decides to make it big in Vaudeville. He struggles for a while but then he becomes the straight man to Rocky Carter, a loveable overweight comedian and the two of them eventually hit it big.While Rocky is the more popular one and the more funny one, Mose is the one who strikes it big off screen, getting married and finding stability. As their careers hit ups and downs and tragedies come and go in their personal lives, the friendship is tested.This book is written from Mose's perspective so you have to remember that you're getting a flawed view, but I enjoyed it. I loved the characters and the descriptions of the tired clubs and the tired vaudeville performers. It was a very emotive story and one that left you wondering.This is a drama about bromance before that was even a thing. It makes me curious about real life duos - such as Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello.

  • Sharon
    2018-11-23 00:58

    I just couldn’t finish it. I started this book, and while it was ok, it just wasn’t very compelling for me. I stopped to read another book for my book club which totally captivated me and I thought - why finish a book just to finish it when when there are so many more enjoyable books to read? If you liked the book, good for you! That’s really the purpose for reading, isn’t it? Read what you enjoy, let the others go, don’t judge someone else’s taste!

  • Kwoomac
    2018-11-24 05:50

    Hmmm. This story is about a a couple of vaudeville guys who work together for over twenty years. They start out on the stage, moving from one small venue to the next. They move on to radio, then the movies, and finally television. As one can imagine, their relationship was complicated: part married couple part friends, part rivals (both loved attention). They fought, they didn't speak, they got back together. The title comes from a skit the Three Stooges did. My brothers and I re-enacted that bit ad nauseum, but without the slapping. Ni-A-Gra Falls! I went online to watch it and I stumble upon a documentary on Abbott and Costello. Carter and Sharp were Abbott and Costello! McCracken does the standard disclaimer that any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead,events, or locales is entirely coincidental. But...Rocky Carter makes his voice higher because on the radio people couldn't differentiate them. Lou Costello did the same thing. Sure, she mixes it up a bit. In the book, Rocly Carter, the funny guy, has a drinking problem. In real life, Bud Abbott, the straight man had a drinking problem. (view spoiler)[ in the book! straight man Mose Sharp's baby drowns. In real life, it was Costello's baby. (hide spoiler)] This did not feel entirely coincidental to me. This really took away from my enjoyment of the book. When I thought it was all McCracken, I really liked what she did. After watching the documentary, I felt a little betrayed.

  • Eric
    2018-12-08 00:50

    The Golden Age of Hollywood will always be lovingly remembered for the emergence of the comedy duo. Those were the days of Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, and even the team of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. The formula for a good comedy duo was quite simple: one half of it was the buffoon, who delivered all the physical gags, and the remaining half was the straight man, who tried to remain unfazed by the former's antics. The formula worked so well that the trend even lasted through the sixties where the team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis ruled supreme.Elizabeth McCracken gives a hilarious and touching story of such a pairing in Niagara Falls All Over Again. She generously serves a deliciously wicked and heart-warming memoir narrated by the straight half of a fictional comedy duo from that memorable Golden Era. It is a story of a professional partnership and an enduring friendship that started from their early days in vaudeville during the Great Depression, through their first taste of Hollywood during the Second World War, and onwards through America's journey into maturity as they decline into obscurity. I also like the way McCracken presents her characters with so much depth and dimension that it makes one realize that in life, one should look beyond stereotypes and that inconsistency in one's character is what makes us human after all.

  • Felix
    2018-12-05 03:47

    I started this book several years ago, got sidetracked into other ventures and picked it up again last month. Elizabeth McCracken is another graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Ann Patchett is another, and the two are friends. I saw mention of McCracken in an interview of Ann Patchett some years ago, and read McCracken's novel, The Giant's House, as well as a collection of short stories, Here's Your Hat, What's Your Hurry? I recommend those books, as well as Niagara Falls.McCracken works the inward lives of her characters in deceptively smooth and unhurried style. Much happens to her characters, all presented in careful detail, each fact and comment building the understanding of that character in the reader. Events happen, provoke reactions, life rolls along through disasters, marriages, tragedies large and small. The story is told from the point of view of Mose Sharp, the straight man to Rocky Carter in a vaudeville act strongly resembling Laurel and Hardy. Following the odd partnership and nearly familial relationship forged over a long career for the two men provides a story of the accumulated small facts and random chances that build two lives, and eventually separate them.Read the book, you won't be sorry.

  • Tracey
    2018-11-27 05:44

    Picked this up from the library after seeing Cranky's 4 star rating and seeing someone else comment "if you like The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, you may like this". Both novels follow the stories of two young men in the entertainment industry in the first half of the 20th century, but this novel is more concrete and a bit more humourous. Not surprising, as the main characters are a comedy duo (Carter and Sharp) who start their careers in vaudeville, then move on to radio, the movies and even television before their partnership unravels. The characters are incredibly well-drawn, with the story told mostly in flashbacks by Mose Sharp, the straightman of the duo. It's a moving story, with some gorgeous writing: "Love is an animal that can - with a great deal of patience - be taught to sleep in the house. That doesn't mean it won't kill you if you aren't careful." I'll keep an eye out for this in the Amazon Daily Deal, as well as used bookstores and may check out more of McCracken's work.

  • Jinksb
    2018-12-13 00:53

    I hate to say it, but as a reader, I'm very shallow. I prefer story-driven books. Fascinating characters are a plus, but won't hook me by themselves. And if I'm told I should read a book just because it's well-written, I feel like a kid with a plate of vegetables plunked in front of him who's told, "Eat up! They're good for you." "Niagara Falls All Over Again" caught my attention with the subject matter: the story of a comedy duo rise through vaudeville, radio, movies and television, and their inevitable fall - and falling out. (I'm a huge Abbott and Costello fan.) As I read, though, I realized how much I was enjoying the writing for itself, over and above its role as vehicle for conveying the plot. Go ahead, unleash those eye rolls and face-palms, and let the "Duh!"s resound. I deserve them. And this book is a damned fine read.

  • Amy
    2018-12-14 00:04

    Read this book while up in the mountains, and while I did like it, and the story captivated me while reading it, I'm hard-pressed to identify the elements of the book that actually captured me. Maybe the fact my father was a Vaudeville star? Maybe the elements of Jewish history in the early 20th century? Maybe early days of radio, movies and TV? Maybe the characters themselves, the love story and the life story. Or perhaps the writing, the telling of this story of two partners in comedy, their togetherness in friendship and the things that pulled them closer and further apart. Anyhow, bottom line is, I liked it, but am not 100% sure why.

  • Kalen
    2018-11-30 05:03

    **** 1/2I really loved this book and I wish more people knew Elizabeth McCracken. I found her by chance when I read The Giant's House several years ago, a book that has always stayed with me. In Niagara Falls All Over Again, McCracken creates very real characters and I especially fell for Mike/Mose, the narrator of the story. The story of his relationships, especially the one with his partner Rocky, felt so real with all of the ups and downs real life relationships face. There is a lot of grief but also a lot of joy. Definitely recommended, especially if you like stories of vaudeville and old Hollywood.

  • Christie Ward
    2018-11-16 03:51

    Loved this book. I remember it had a great quote in it, about when you dream that a loved one who has died is alive, and then you wake up to and must realize all over again that the loved one is still dead: "I never know if it's the meanest trick God plays on us, or the purest form of his love."

  • Sarah
    2018-12-04 02:55

    If you liked The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, you'll enjoy this book. McCracken develops a complicated and wonderful relationship between the comedy duo of Carter and Sharp, and follows them as their lives unfold, while bringing you into the world of vaudeville.

  • Alarra
    2018-11-21 02:02

    This just happened to push all my story buttons - love and dysfunctional families, the thin to disappearing line between love and the closest partnerships/frienships, to name a few - and it was funny and amusing and yet broke my heart in several ways

  • Margaret Carmel
    2018-11-22 02:46

    This book is not mindblowningly inventive or especially magical, but I had a great time reading it and it had a lot of touching moments. Glad I discovered it. Niagara Falls All Over Again is about fictional comedy duo Carter and Sharp. The story is narrated by Mose Sharp---the "straight man" in the entertaining partnership--- who takes the reader from the days of vaudeville to Hollywood, radio, TV and their washed up years. Although this is about show business, it's more about Rocky Carter and Mose Sharp's long term partnership. McCracken depicts their complicated and touching friendship with great characterization, nice details and enjoyable to read writing. This isn't a very plot heavy work. Instead it takes the pace of a fictional memoir. By the end I felt like I knew these characters and I was sad to turn the last page and have it all end. My favorite sections were when she described Mose's sad feelings about the end of vaudeville. It reminded me a lot of how I feel currently working at a newspaper and feeling like the medium is dying despite all of my coworkers and I's best efforts. This book won't change your life, but it made me happy in a way that wasn't all vapid nonsense.

  • m_miriam
    2018-11-28 04:53

    This a story for the sake of a story, nothing transcendent or meaningful or redemptive. While this book is ultimately a story of friendship, it was not a relationship that mattered for me. The characters were so self-absorbed lacking in self-reflection, just really uninteresting. The story felt like a retread that wasn't that interesting to begin with. While the book follows the development of 20th century America, it lacked any real insight or emotional connection.

  • Pat Wahler
    2018-11-22 23:04

    This story is told by the "straight man" of a comedy duo, from their start in vaudeville to Hollywood fame. I suspect these characters are drawn from a mix of real comics from the early years of entertainment. The author mixed in bits of humor and sprinkled her story with familiar Hollywood names.I have mixed feelings about the story. Parts of it were superb, other parts didn't appeal to me much. The book received numerous literary kudos, so my opinion might be among the minority.

  • Cdubbub
    2018-12-08 23:05

    This is actually 4 and a half stars. I never thought I'd be interested in the back story of a vaudeville duo, but man was I invested in these guys. Every minor character was so richly drawn I would read spin off stories about all of them. Despite some middling parts at the very beginning, this had me from beginning to end

  • Tamara
    2018-11-30 02:54

    What a surprising delight. Elizabeth McCracken effectively conjures the intensity and complexity of relationships (not necessarily romantic) without feeling cloying or condescending. Her characters have a substance and density to them that seems rare in fiction.

  • janetandjohn
    2018-11-28 04:43

    For me the subject matter was decidedly odd, being about an American comedy duo who worked their way through vaudeville, film, radio and TV. They were funny men, the book is not. But it was a brilliant read for me. Another of those books that sat on the shelf for far too long.

  • Kristen Schrader (Wenke)
    2018-11-14 22:57

    Well-written, but not my type of book. Slow.

  • Sarah
    2018-11-22 00:46

    I loved The Giant's House, so I was excited to read something else by Elizabeth McCracken. But this underwhelmed me. It had the potential of being s theater version of kavalier & clay (a personal favorite), but fell short.

  • Derek Emerson
    2018-12-10 22:43

    Elizabeth McCracken's novel, Niagara Falls All Over Again, is the complete package: strong plot, well developed characters, and several story lines which tie together well. There are so many ways in which this novel could have gone wrong, the fact that MckCracken pulls it off is a testament to her skill.The novel is told to us by Moses Sharp, and Midwestern Jewish boy from a small town, who grows up to be the straight man in a highly successful comedy team. From his time on the vaudeville circuit, where he meets Rocky Carter, the driving force in his life, to his retirement from the entertainment business after making countless B-grade movies, we follow Moses throughout. Moses comes from a large family of sisters, but none dearer than Hattie, with whom he plans to go into show business. When that is no longer possible, he faces the choice of taking over his father's clothing store (as expected), or heading out on his own.He heads out and McCracken gives us a wonderful look at the vaudeville circuit as it was beginning to die. The hope and despair, the bizarre acts, the ability to improvise, and the dependence on each other, all show through. We follow Carter and Sharp, who resemble Laurel and Hardy in their descriptions (although they too are mentioned in the book), as they go to Hollywood and strike it rich. Professionally. Their personal lives are a different story and they take different directions, but to avoid giving away too much, I'll leave you to the novel.While are there are many elements of the book to praise, McCracken's creation of Moses Sharp is the best. He is an intricately drawn person, especially tricky to do since he is the narrator. But he is an honest narrator and we see him for what he is -- a good man with a not always good life and not always exemplary behavior. In other words, he is real.I've praised McCracken's novel, The Giant's House, in another post. It is clear that she is a voice to not only read more of, but one we can watch for as she continues to create.

  • Beth
    2018-12-03 03:42

    Just as McCracken showed us the world of librarianship, here she offers a peep at the exotic traveling life of vaudeville in the early and mid 1900's. Jewish Midwesterner Moses Sharp narrates his experience as the straight man professor to fat funnyman Rocky Carter on radio, stage and screen in a long and successful partnership that is wrought with argument, compromise, affairs, and hard work, like any marriage of two minds. Although McCracken may limit her audience with her choice of topic and period references, every time I almost put the book down because I was tired of missing allusions, a laugh out loud funny scene came along, such as the radio scene where the sound man is drunk and uses hoofbeats for every audio effect. McCracken's insightful gems are universal ("Love is an animal that can - with a great deal of patience - be taught to sleep in the house. That doesn't mean it won't kill you if you're not careful." p. 93), her humor is easily accessible (the Sharp and Carter bits are funny as Abbott and Costello), and she has a poet's knack for stringing together words to create vivid imagery: "In the corner a young man with dark hair that fell into his eyes sat at a grand piano, his shoulders already up to his ears, his hands above the keyboard, as though her were a character in a Swiss clock, waiting for the hour to strike." (p. 161).A certain set of readers will love this book, but it may not find a wide audience in spite of its universal themes of marriage and relationships, and of maintaining humor and sanity in the face of devastating loss. Recommended for fans of John Irving.Comment

  • Sandy
    2018-12-06 04:43

    Mose (Mike) Sharp grows up in Iowa working with his Jewish father in their men's wear shop. But Mose and his sister Hattie want to be in vaudeville. Then she falls for a guy and wants to go to college, betraying her brother and her dreams. She ends up falling off the roof of their house and dying. Mose had tried to catch her, but failed. Mose go to vaude himself and comedian Rocky snags him to be the straight man to his fat, funny self. Very slapstick and very successful. While everyone seems to love the funny fat man, Mose is the one who saves his money, finds a wonderful (ballerina) wife, has children, has his sisters back home in Iowa (West Des Moines). Not without heartache. At one point his 2-3 yr old daughter drowns in the family smimming pool when his wife accidently leaves the gates open. He's so bitter and heartbroken, that he almost drives his family away, but is able to recover and repair that. Meanwhile, things for Rocky continue a downward spiral. Goes through several wives, has only 1 adopted child whom his ex-wife won't let him see, spends his money as fast as he can earn it, has a drinking problem. Mose wants to end the comedy team, Rocky clings to it. This causes dissention. When Rocky threatens to expose Mose's wife's previous Communist ties unless Mose continues the act, that truly seals the end of their professional relationship, and pretty much their personal relationship too.This book explores the complex relationships between people. Has some funny parts. Is very well written. Some strange characters, but mostly endearing characters. No huge climax, but easy read with good story.

  • Susan Katz
    2018-12-14 06:11

    Very engaging. Really enjoyed.

  • Jeana
    2018-12-08 01:57

    While I didn't like this book as much as The Giant's House, I still really liked it. There's just something about McCracken's writing that lures me in every time, and keeps me reading. I liked to see myself feeling compassionate for "the lady's man" and then seeing him turn into a family man, giving up his long-time partner and his stardom for what is really important--his family. There was something very touching about journeying through Mose Sharp's life. Despite his failures and inadequacies, you couldn't help but love this guy.The world of vaudeville isn't something I knew much about before reading this. My only comparison is Abbott & Costello (which my dad adored), so that's how I pictured Rocky and Mose, as Abbott and Costello, and if I must add, I read this with an emotional attachment: I can still hear my dad laughing at the slapstick humor when he used to watch Abbott & Costello. This vaudeville comedy seems so different from the comedy that we have now, but this is what people loved once upon a time, and I'm glad I got to enjoy a piece of it in this story.

  • Paula
    2018-12-04 00:43

    This is another book-swapping book, one that sounded interesting from the blurb and so I took a chance on it and quite enjoyed what I found!It's a book about vaudeville, and particularly written from the perspective of a small-town boy from Iowa whose father wants him to take over the family tailoring business but the smell of the greasepaint beckons. This particular individual ends up as a straight man in a double act, first on the stage, then radio and the movies, then finally television.Meanwhile, Mike Sharp (not his real name) is trying to come to terms with his relationship with his real family, let alone the relationships he makes along the way in his career, and especially the love-hate relationship between him and his partner. It's a really interesting book, with some very nice turns of phrase, and gives an insight into a time that I hadn't ever thought much about. I probably ought to see what else McCracken has written, in case she's tapped into anything else I might want to have a look at.

  • Messicabridge
    2018-12-02 03:47

    I enjoyed this author's voice and there were a few really lovely sentences and passages, but overall I was unable to really get into this story. I got 3/4 of the way there and skimmed the rest. It's written in the first person, which usually is not a problem for me, but I never feel like I ever really got a hold of the main character. And for a book that is supposed to take place during the time between the end of the Vaudeville era and the beginning the cultural influences of movies , I wasn't gripped by the world building. I wish there had been more detail and substance to this setting. I also gather that the two protagonists are heavily inspired by Abbot and Costello. I think if you have a better hold on both the Abbot/Costello body of work and personal lives this book might work better for you. I will definitely try something by this author again, but this particular novel didn't really do anything for me.