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3 Hawthorne Literature- A to Z

Straight Man: A Novel

by

Straight Man: A Novel Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"[My] second reading of Straight Man was just as engrossing, entertaining, and satisfying as the first. Again, I found myself laughing out loud at Russo's pitch-perfect prose and the jokes that seem as effortless as they are hilarious. Again, I found myself enraptured with the book's eclectic cast of characters. And again, the pages of this meandering academic comedy turned faster than the most gripping Stephen King thriller." Chris Bolton, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this uproarious new novel, Richard Russo performs his characteristic high-wire walk between hilarity and heartbreak. Russo's protagonist is William Henry Devereaux, Jr., the reluctant chairman of the English department of a badly underfunded college in the Pennsylvania rust belt. Devereaux's reluctance is partly rooted in his character — he is a born anarchist — and partly in the fact that his department is more savagely divided than the Balkans.

In the course of a single week, Devereaux will have his nose mangled by an angry colleague, imagine his wife is having an affair with his dean, wonder if a curvaceous adjunct is trying to seduce him with peach pits, and threaten to execute a goose on local television. All this while coming to terms with his philandering father, the dereliction of his youthful promise, and the ominous failure of certain vital body functions. In short, Straight Man is classic Russo — side-splitting and true-to-life, witty, compassionate, and impossible to put down.

Review:

"[A] hilarious, wise and compassionate novel....Readers who do not laugh uncontrollably during this raucous, witty and touching work are seriously impaired." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"[G]loriously funny and involving....Laconic, deadpan, disarmingly modest and self-effacing, it's the perfect vehicle for another of Russo's irresistible revelations of the agreeable craziness of everyday life." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[Russo] skewers academic pretensions and infighting with mad abandon...in a clear and muscular prose that is a pleasure to read....I had to stop often to guffaw, gasp, wheeze and wipe away my tears." Henry Kisor, Chicago Sun-Times

Review:

"Russo can penetrate to the tender quick of ordinary, American lives." Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Straight Man...is so funny, so beautifully written, so fully imagined, it is easy to forgive its familiarity....Russo is an easy, elegant writer. The book is beautifully plotted, and Russo makes you care about Devereaux and his fate. He also makes you laugh out loud." Joan Smith, Salon.com

Review:

"There is a big, wry heart beating at the center of Russo's fiction." The New Yorker

Review:

"Russo is a master craftsman....The blue-collar heartache at the center of his fiction has the sheen of Dickens but the epic levity of John Irving." The Boston Globe

Review:

"What makes Richard Russo so admirable as a novelist is that his natural grace as a storyteller is matched by his compassion for his characters." John Irving

Review:

"After the last sentence is read, the reader continues to see Russo's tender, messed-up people coming out of doorways, lurching through life. And keeps on seeing them because they are as real as we are." E. Annie Proulx

Review:

"Funny, bighearted, resolutely untrendy, ultimately moving...at once a delightful entertainment and a wise handbook for living." New York Newsday

Review:

"Richard Russo's novel is as simple as family love, yet nearly as complicated." San Francisco Chronicle

Synopsis:

The author of The Risk Pool and Nobody's Fool delivers a brilliant new novel about a professor whose sense of humor is tested by the cosmic joke. Hank Devereaux, Jr., failed novelist, creative writing teacher, and estranged son of one of academe's stars, is a hero whose cynicism must be mitigated by his love for family, friends and, ultimately, knowledge itself.

About the Author

Richard Russo lives in Waterville, Maine, with his wife and two daughters. He is the author of three previous novels, Mohawk, The Risk Pool, and Nobody's Fool.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 14 comments:

megcurrell, October 21, 2014 (view all comments by megcurrell)
This is the funniest book I've read in a long time. Russo strays from his well-plumbed stories of father/son dysfunction into the dysfunction of university politics, and delivers a great story in his beautiful, witty style. A must for anyone who has attended or worked at a university.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
megcurrell, October 21, 2014 (view all comments by megcurrell)
This is the funniest book I've read in a long time. Russo strays from his well-plumbed stories of father/son dysfunction into the dysfunction of university politics, and delivers a great story in his beautiful, witty style. A must for anyone who has attended or worked at a university.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
lukas, October 17, 2014 (view all comments by lukas)
I've known about Richard Russo for a while, but just started reading him this year and am devouring his work, which I think puts him at the forefront of contemporary American novelists. Like Irving, he has little interest in trends, post-modernism, or experimentalism. He's a proudly old fashioned, populist novelist who rather than trying to bend words in new ways do what great authors have always done: try to make sense of how we live. "Straight Man" is not his best novel, but it is his funniest. He keeps the small-town setting of his other books, but this time the characters are professors at a college. He gently pokes fun at office politics, lit theory, and how every English prof. tries to write a novel. As always, his characters and settings feel authentic and lived in, like a familiar flannel shirt. It has a similar wit and feel to David Lodge's campus novels.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 14 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375701900
Author:
Russo, Richard
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Humorous
Subject:
College teachers
Subject:
College teachers -- Fiction.
Subject:
College stories.
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage Contemporaries
Publication Date:
19980631
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
8 x 5.1 x 0.8 in 0.65 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Featured Titles

Straight Man: A Novel Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 416 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780375701900 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "[My] second reading of Straight Man was just as engrossing, entertaining, and satisfying as the first. Again, I found myself laughing out loud at Russo's pitch-perfect prose and the jokes that seem as effortless as they are hilarious. Again, I found myself enraptured with the book's eclectic cast of characters. And again, the pages of this meandering academic comedy turned faster than the most gripping Stephen King thriller." (read the entire Powells.com review)
"Review" by , "[A] hilarious, wise and compassionate novel....Readers who do not laugh uncontrollably during this raucous, witty and touching work are seriously impaired."
"Review" by , "[G]loriously funny and involving....Laconic, deadpan, disarmingly modest and self-effacing, it's the perfect vehicle for another of Russo's irresistible revelations of the agreeable craziness of everyday life."
"Review" by , "[Russo] skewers academic pretensions and infighting with mad abandon...in a clear and muscular prose that is a pleasure to read....I had to stop often to guffaw, gasp, wheeze and wipe away my tears."
"Review" by , "Russo can penetrate to the tender quick of ordinary, American lives."
"Review" by , "Straight Man...is so funny, so beautifully written, so fully imagined, it is easy to forgive its familiarity....Russo is an easy, elegant writer. The book is beautifully plotted, and Russo makes you care about Devereaux and his fate. He also makes you laugh out loud."
"Review" by , "There is a big, wry heart beating at the center of Russo's fiction."
"Review" by , "Russo is a master craftsman....The blue-collar heartache at the center of his fiction has the sheen of Dickens but the epic levity of John Irving."
"Review" by , "What makes Richard Russo so admirable as a novelist is that his natural grace as a storyteller is matched by his compassion for his characters."
"Review" by , "After the last sentence is read, the reader continues to see Russo's tender, messed-up people coming out of doorways, lurching through life. And keeps on seeing them because they are as real as we are."
"Review" by , "Funny, bighearted, resolutely untrendy, ultimately moving...at once a delightful entertainment and a wise handbook for living."
"Review" by , "Richard Russo's novel is as simple as family love, yet nearly as complicated."
"Synopsis" by , The author of The Risk Pool and Nobody's Fool delivers a brilliant new novel about a professor whose sense of humor is tested by the cosmic joke. Hank Devereaux, Jr., failed novelist, creative writing teacher, and estranged son of one of academe's stars, is a hero whose cynicism must be mitigated by his love for family, friends and, ultimately, knowledge itself.
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