From the Vault: 'Empire Falls' by Richard Russo, Starring Ed Harris, Paul Newman, and Helen Hunt

Still of Paul Newman in Empire Falls © AP Photo/HBO, Demmie Todd
Still of Paul Newman in Empire Falls © AP Photo/HBO, Demmie Todd

Welcome to Empire Falls, Maine, an unassuming, blue-collar, industrial American town in steady decline. It's the kind of place you might pass through on your way to someplace else. Meet Miles Roby: Our protagonist and manager of  the Empire Grill, once robbed by circumstance, is trapped in a town he was meant to pass through. His own ambitions are stifled and his anguish is private, but still, Miles endures it all for the chance that his daughter, Tick, might enjoy the the kind of future he was denied.

Russo paints the world of Empire Falls with masterful familiarity, infusing his comedy with underlying, relentless heartbreak. In 2005, Richard Russo adapted his novel into a two-part HBO miniseries. The series marks Paul Newman's (he plays Max Roby, Miles's father) final onscreen role.

Empire Falls won Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2002. The HBO miniseries, which was directed by  Fred Schepsi, stars Ed Harris, Paul Newman, Helen Hunt, Joanne Woodward, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dennis Farina, Robin Wright Penn, Danielle Panabaker, and Lou Taylor Pucci.