Here is the first sentence from Richard Russo‘s novel, Empire Falls, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002:
“The Empire Grill was long and low-slung, with windows that ran its entire length, and since the building next door, a Rexall drugstore, had been condemned and razed, it was now possible to sit at the lunch counter and see straight down Empire Avenue all the way to the old textile mill and its adjacent shirt factory.”
Which is why he is often praised for his sense of place. But in a July 2, 2004 article in the New York Times, he talked about this. “I’ve never written nearly as much about place as people seem to think I do. I just write about class.”
In The Bridge of Sighs, published in 2007, he begins in a completely different manner. Its first sentence is,
“First, the facts.”
Although I enjoyed both books, I like The Bridge of Sighs even better than Empire Falls.
Me, too, though I read Empire Falls so long ago that I don’t exactly remember why. But I just fell into the world in the Bridge of Sighs, and felt like I belonged there.