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NOBODY'S FOOL

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NOBODY’S FOOL Richard Russo (Random House, $23) Richard Russo’s new novel is set in a region of upstate New York bounded on all sides by disappointment and populated entirely by underdogs. It’s called North Bath, and Donald Sullivan, known as Sully, is North Bath incarnate. Apart from failure, the one thing he’s really good at is the bantering and needling that come a close second to weather in small-town conversation. He’s the Thomas Edison of insults, and his victims form a large cross section of the community. For all the novel’s quiet drollery, nothing much happens in it. Still, its moral-about how little love and loyalty play by the rules-is worth absorbing with the coffee in Hattie’s diner, the drinks in the White Horse bar, and the shot suspension in Sully’s truck. B+ -L.S. Klepp