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Straight Man Audiobook

Straight Man

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Publisher's Summary

In this uproarious 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.

© 1997 Richard Russo; (P) 2003 Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (715 )
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4.3 (411 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Sarah 04-02-17
    Sarah 04-02-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Other Richard Russo books are SO much better"

    Expected a lot after reading several others. Disappointed. Kept waiting for it to really get going- it didnt. Narrator was good though.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin Merritt 03-19-17
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    "A worthy successor to Lucky Jim"

    Hits so close to home I couldn't stop laughing. Should be required reading to achieve tenure.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zoe 12-13-16
    Zoe 12-13-16 Member Since 2016
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    "A Keeper"

    Straight Man was a delight to listen to. Kudos to both the writer and reader. I will miss Henry's fine wit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonelle Camp Hill, PA, United States 08-24-16
    Jonelle Camp Hill, PA, United States 08-24-16 Member Since 2008

    A librarian who loves to read, whether in print or in the air

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Funny to the End- Especially for Academics"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this older novel from Russo. It kept me laughing right to the very end as its college department chair hero resolves his mid-life career crisis.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lauren Schweizer 05-21-16
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    "Sly, sophisticated novel"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-10-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Straight Man by Richard Russo"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emmamom Broad Brook CT 04-07-16
    Emmamom Broad Brook CT 04-07-16 Member Since 2017

    Cheryltopher

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    "I listened to the great reviews to my great regret"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lauren Chicago, IL, United States 02-10-16
    Lauren Chicago, IL, United States 02-10-16 Member Since 2011

    I guess I'm a baby...I just love to be read to.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Started Strong...."

    And ended weakly. The last quarter of the book was pretty boring. The amount of similar characters with similar names got kind of confusing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne in State College State College, PA 10-27-15
    Anne in State College State College, PA 10-27-15

    Anne in Happy Valley

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    "One of my all time favorite books."
    Would you listen to Straight Man again? Why?

    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!


    What did you like best about this story?

    Occam's razor and how it's put to use


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah M. Jordan 03-17-15 Member Since 2015
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    "excellent character driven book."

    really liked the character and the story. a self-depricating look at academics. very funny and poignant.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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