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.
© 1997 Richard Russo; (P) 2003 Random House, Inc.
"There is a big, wry heart beating at the center of Russo's fiction." (The New Yorker)
"[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." (Chicago Sun-Times)
"Russo can penetrate to the tender quick of ordinary, American lives." (Entertainment Weekly)
This has become my new favorite novel. I love the memorable characters, the well-developed and amusing plot, the surprising and satisfying humor. This is the third Richard Russo novel I've listened to this week and the best of them, I think.
Straight Man by Richard Russo is one of the best audio books I have listened to on the Audible App. The book itself describes many of the foibles which go on in academe. The book was especially of interest to me, since it describes some of the machinations which went on in the English department at the Unniversity where I taught during that time period---the same school where Russo was also employed at the time. Excellent book and highly perceptive and lots of fun.
The narrator was perfect for the book, and the narration could not have been better!
Looking for a smart, funny, witty book I chose this based on the great reviews. I loved Confederacy of Dunces and thought Straight Man might make me laugh too. Boy was I wrong. I trudged 3/4 through and gave up. I couldn't bring myself to care about or like a single character, and the chauvanistic tropes felt tired and dated, and more often than not, creepy. Middle aged professors flirting with and sometimes sleeping with students. The professor who came out of the closet, attended sexual orientation counseling at the behest of his wife, and returns to the closet - his flamboyant white suit and fake PHD the basis of what makes this offensive take on homosexuality "funny." The socially outcast writing student, angry with all the pretty women who consistently reject and emasculate him writes long and prurient stories featuring graphic and endless rape scenes and even necrophilia. What a hoot! The goose on the cover and reviews talking about the main characters's threat to "kill a duck a day" unless his department gets funded made me think of funny scenes with Sonia the elephant in The 100 Yr Old Man Who Climbed Through the Window. Here, however, Hank chokes the goose, holding it aloft by the neck and makes his speech while the goose "with bulging eyes" flaps his wings and squawks frantically. I guess the fact that Hank is wearing Groucho Marx glasses and fake nose is what makes this scene funny, but this was about the time I found myself wishing I could get my time refunded, if not my money.
I guess I'm a baby...I just love to be read to.
And ended weakly. The last quarter of the book was pretty boring. The amount of similar characters with similar names got kind of confusing.
Anne in Happy Valley
I do listen to this book every few years. I don't identify with the main character at all -- but I love him. I'm in love with him!
Occam's razor and how it's put to use
OMG, I've been struggling with this book for what seems like forever. I've been recommended to read it because I like David Lodge's novels about academics, and it is in no way like David Lodge. It's boring, the plot is weak, and the best chapter so far is the very beginning about the dog. Uff.
I ordered this audiobook after reading all of the glowing reviews about how hilarious it is. I listened for about two hours, waiting to laugh. Then all of a sudden it hit me... I've been listening to this for two hours, waiting for it to get funny. This could only mean... It's not going to GET funny... It ISN'T funny. What did I miss?
OK, this is Mary's husband.
This is the second time I've listened to this book in the last 3.5 years, and it's fabulous -- I laugh uncontrollably. It probably helps if you're an ex-University rat, but the narrator is wonderful -- dry, ironic, with perfect timing. I love Richard Russo's work but I wish they had used Sam Freed for his other books.
Right up there with Lucky Jim as one of my favorite books.
Absolutely! I already have!
Russo's ability to depict the humorous aspects of the ordinary lives of these small town academicians.
A matter-of-fact reading that underscores and enhances the wry, witty, prose of Russo.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.