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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 (637 )
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4.3 (336 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 07-23-11
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 07-23-11 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not As Good As Nobody's Fool"

    I really enjoyed Nobody's Fool so this made it a hard act to follow. It was okay, but not terrific. Maybe I just didn't connect with the main character well. I wanted more on the relationship between hm and his wife. Maybe because I am a wife. Who really were his good friends? There were so many co-workers, I got confused which he really liked and which he didn't. Everyone, even the younger folk, just seemed to be having mid-life crises, jumping in and out of bed with anone they could. Narration was good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terry Corvallis, OR, USA 01-23-10
    Terry Corvallis, OR, USA 01-23-10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "One of the best novels I've read/heard in years"

    This novel proves beyond a doubt that being funny while tackling serious subjects works. It works much better than pulling a long face and letting everyone "we're being serious here." I enjoyed this book, as did my husband. We laughed out loud many times. We did not miss the point - a man who feels as though his life is far too comfortable, but can't bring himself to risk what he has in order to be more of a person. It's not uncommon for a middle class person (this is an issue for women as well as men) in this country to wrestle with this issue at some time or another. Since many of the characters are of a similar age, virtually all of them are dealing with the same thing at the same time. So, a universal theme told with a delightful wit. Incidentally, don't take this as common to all Russo's books. The last one started out with a chapter so whiny that I closed it without going further. And it's considerably better put together than the novel he won the Pulitzer for. Too bad that the powers that be don't understand the artistry it takes to combine humor and drama - and that both things are often going on at the same time. This novel gets it, and brings the reader right into it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom Stillwater , OK, USA 12-17-09
    Tom Stillwater , OK, USA 12-17-09 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Richard Russo in Great Form"

    The story of a broken down English department at a nondescript university. Russo is great at two things: the goings on between long-married couples, and places in decay. He puts them both together here and the story is often laugh out loud funny.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Asher Kentucky 11-03-09
    D. Asher Kentucky 11-03-09 Listener Since 2007

    Dave

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Richard Russo does it again"

    Excellent. I really enjoyed the character development and story line. What a super author!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jed Scarsdale, NY, USA 06-08-09
    Jed Scarsdale, NY, USA 06-08-09 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "straight man"

    It's hard to imagine a funnier or more charming book. I laughed out loud even when I had my own similar car accident.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frank North Carolina 05-22-08
    Frank North Carolina 05-22-08 Listener Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Absolutely great"

    This immediately became one of my favorite novels. The characters are interesting, funny, and completely believable. (If you have spent any time working in higher education, you will able to recognize the characters and their foibles from your own experience.) I cannot say enough good things about this novel.

    I only have two regrets: (1) that Audible does not have all of the author's books in its library, and (2) that the reader has not recorded more books of interest to me (I am not a fan of Danielle Steel or Robert James Waller) - he did a great job.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Colin Manly, NSW, Australia 03-22-08
    Colin Manly, NSW, Australia 03-22-08 Member Since 2014

    Live in Sydney, Australia. South African heritage. Love audio books. Constant company on my non-stop business travels.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Expected more..."

    This came across as a little self-indulgent and, on reflection, a petty piece of writing. The microscopic ego driven pernickety nature of academic politics is almost cliched so found myself not relating to the characters. The story chugs along with a certain predictable banality and I was waiting for it to be over. Maybe I'm being a tad harsh. Maybe my expectations were too high. It was too contextually tight - was looking for broader relevance and insight into the thing called human being.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MKE Family 12-02-07
    MKE Family 12-02-07 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very funny"

    This book was so funny that I was doubled over in laughter yet looking back it was very poignant as well. I really enjoyed it

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Madeira Park, BC, Canada 04-08-06
    Mary Madeira Park, BC, Canada 04-08-06 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Another Great Russo"

    Russo has two subjects: academe and the working class, and he is equally at home and wry about both. This one is about academe and it's about the funniest in that line since Lucky Jim. Actually it has Lucky Jim licked coming and going, but then LJ is kind of dated. But it's in that mold. Zany maverick prof pulls every stunt he can think of to get himself turfed but just when it seems he's finally done it...well, you'll have to read it. You won't be sorry. This is America's funniest good novelist since Bellow in his Augie March days.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanne Orlando, FL, USA 12-19-04
    Jeanne Orlando, FL, USA 12-19-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Best of the Best"

    Richard Russo is one of the best writers living today. He's funny; he's witty; and he's insightful. I'd recommend any of his books. But this audio book is really worth the time. It got me from Orlando to Boston. You won't be disappointed.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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