We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
Straight Man Audiobook

Straight Man

Regular Price:$33.60
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

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 (707 )
5 star
 (336)
4 star
 (206)
3 star
 (109)
2 star
 (34)
1 star
 (22)
Overall
4.1 (407 )
5 star
 (195)
4 star
 (112)
3 star
 (59)
2 star
 (27)
1 star
 (14)
Story
4.3 (403 )
5 star
 (216)
4 star
 (127)
3 star
 (44)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (8)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Bonny 10-25-11
    Bonny 10-25-11 Member Since 2017

    Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1612
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    195
    108
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    150
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Really a 2.5 star book"

    Straight Man is really a 2.5 star book, but a good cup of coffee has made me feel generous in rounding. I was looking for something that was laugh out loud funny, and there were several occasions that I did just that, but not enough to make this a worthwhile read. Overall, the book struck me as more sad than humorous. William Henry Devereaux Jr. is the chairman of a small Pennsylvania state college English department. He doesn't take anything seriously, and the book evolves into a series of stories, conversations, ridiculous situations, and Hank's thoughts while the caricature characters worry about budget cuts and hit each other. Hank prattles on about Occam's razor and the status of his urinary tract far too much for me. I'm not in a position to judge whether this accurately reflects the personalities, interactions, and craziness of a college English department, but too much struck me as far-fetched and absurd. I will have to try some other authors (Jane Smiley, David Lodge) in search of good academic humor.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maureen McDaniel 08-30-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    120
    42
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    "Fun, witty, real and entertaining."

    Hard to take this one out of my ears. I'm already a Richard Russo fan, and this book made me laugh out loud as well as chuckle quietly. An irreverent and likeable protagonist with beautifully sketched academic characters in outrageous, yet oddly credible, situations. Great read, goes fast, and I missed it when I finished.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 07-23-11
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 07-23-11 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    772
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    566
    311
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    60
    0
    Overall
    "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
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    39
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "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
    29
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    320
    21
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "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
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    53
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "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
    54
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    38
    17
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    2
    Overall
    "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
    146
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    248
    27
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    3
    Overall
    "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
  •  
    JoAnn 12-02-07
    JoAnn 12-02-07 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    359
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1140
    41
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    15
    0
    Overall
    "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

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.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.