Just finished Empire Falls, by Richard Russo, and it was definitely one for the could-not-put-down, must-share-with-fellow-readers pile.
There were things I didn't like about the book - like the flashbacks being written in italics, which bothered my eyes - but overall, it was great. Set in a sleepy, falling-off-the-map town in Maine, the story focuses heavily on the intrigue found in small towns like Empire Falls as well as themes of destiny/fate and irony.
I'm not sure I can say too much about it without ruining it, really. I appreciated the humor in the book, particularly when mixed with insight into subjects one tends to forget or erase intentionally as time goes on, like in passages such as this one:
"In matters of affection, the rules of engagement at Empire High were detailed yet unambiguous, an extension of procedures established in junior high, a set of guidelines that couldn't have been any clearer if they'd been posted on the schoolhouse door. If you were a girl and your heart inclined toward a particularly boy, you had one of your girlfriends make inquiries from one of that boy's friends. Such contact represented the commencement of a series of complex negotiations, the opening rounds of which were handed by friends. Boy's friend A might report to girl's friend B that the boy in question considered her a fox, or, if he felt particularly strongly, a major fox. Those experienced in these matters knew that it was wise to proceed cautiously, since too much ardor could delay things for weeks. The girl in question might be in negotiations with other parties, and no boy wanted to be on record as considering a girl a major fox only to discover that she considered him merely cool. Friends had to be instructed carefully about how much emotional currency they could spend, since rogue emotions led to inflation, lessening the value of everyone's feelings."
Definitely an A. Recommended.