Dexter County, Maine, and specifically the town of Empire Falls, has seen better days, and for decades, in fact, only a succession from bad to worse....
Like his late, beloved father, Louis Charles ("Lucy") Lynch is an optimist, though he's had plenty of reasons not to be....
In this slyly funny and moving novel, Richard Russo follows the unexpected operation of grace in a deadbeat, upstate New York town, and in the lives of the unluckiest of its citizens.
That Old Cape Magic is a novel of deep introspection and every family feeling imaginable, with a middle-aged man confronting his parents and their failed marriage and his own troubled one....
Russo's characters in these four expansive stories bear little similarity to the blue-collar citizens we're familiar with from many of his novels....
To this irresistible debut collection of short stories, Richard Russo brings the same bittersweet wit, deep knowledge of human nature, and spellbinding narrative gifts that distinguish his novels....
After eight commanding works of fiction, the Pulitzer Prize winner now turns to memoir in a hilarious, moving, and always surprising account of his life....
Anything Is Possible explores the whole range of human emotion through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others....
When, in 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, he is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across from the Kremlin....
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking....
It's 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson - college professor, stalled writer - has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn't seen her in decades, not since she abandoned the family....
Anna Kerrigan, nearly 12 years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family....
People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink....
On a dim winter afternoon, a young Irish immigrant opens the gas taps in his Brooklyn tenement. He is determined to prove "that the hours of his life belong to himself alone"....
One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating's christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny's mother, Beverly....
A riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives....
Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession, made to his grandson, of a man the narrator refers to only as "my grandfather". It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure....
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate is a book about an unlikely campaign that had an even more improbable ending: the closest outcome in history....
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.
"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 was one of the most entertaining and engaging books I have come across in some time. The central character is an interesa fascinating,irritating, yet lovably hilarious excuse for a grown-up. He was a wonderful mixture of insightfulness and cluelessness. There are some terrific moments along the way that had me falling out of my chair with laughter-- then I'd climb back in to my chair to "re-read" the passage again and enjoy it once more. My wife was so intrigued by how I gleefully devoured this book that she had to read it herself. She loved it too! And so have each of my friends who I have convinced to read it.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
I bought this book after seeing it in a Staff Recommendations rack. It is the funniest non Comedy book I have ever read. I have bought copies for several friends and have read several Russo books since. He is terrific.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
This is the funniest book I have listened to since John Grisham's Skipping Christmas. It is a hilarious account of the trouble a middle aged college professor can find while his wife is away for several days. Russo's writing combines humor with the trials and tribulations of growing old or should I say growing up? A must listen!
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
So I gave it only 4 stars. This isn't because Straight Man isn't wonderful. Perhaps when I compare it to the richness of Empire Falls and Nobody's Fool, it just doesn't quite fill those shoes. But don't let this stop you.
In some ways I enjoyed this book more than the other Russo books I have had the pleasure to listen to. This book was funnier. And I could not help but wonder how much of the protagonist, Hank Devereaux, was really Richard Russo himself as an irreverant wise-cracking head of a college English department.
Devereaux's own mother criticized her son telling him "you've become a clever man." To understand how this is considered a fault, you really have to listen to this book.
One hundred percent enjoyable!
9 of 11 people found this review helpful
Hilarious satire combined with warm sympathetic characters. The satire is funny but never cruel--difficult balance to maintain but Russo pulls it off. Delicious send-up of pompous college administrators and members of the college English department. Even when Russo is at his satiric best, almost all of the characters, though flawed, are presented as sympathetic complex human beings. I laughed alot--sometimes so hard that I had to stop listening. All in all, a wonderfully entertaining, intelligent and humane book--highly recommend.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
If you don't read this book, I'll kill one duck a day (goose) until there are no more ducks (geese).:) Really funny. I loved it and will listen to it again.
8 of 10 people found this review helpful
Maybe if I didn't have such high expectations for Russo’s writing ability I would have enjoyed Straight Man better. And to be fair, the writing IS good – it’s the story that disappointed. Underachieving academics trying to survive their own mediocrity in an atmosphere of budget cuts and departmental backstabbing had potential and started out well, but the whining and self-pity got old and I just wanted to tell everyone to grow up. The choice of first person viewpoint didn't help, as supporting characters can only be known through the protagonist’s perceptions, leaving them somewhat flat. It seemed that Russo tried to fluff them up a bit through silly quirks, but it didn't work well for me. I much preferred the subtle ironic humor of “Nobody’s Fool” to the forced silliness of “Straight Man”. At one point Devereaux’s mother chided him for his literary laziness saying he had “become a clever man”. That line summarized my feelings about Russo’s effort here.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
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.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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
There are just not enough novels with 49 year old men who are kind of clever but not terribly good at anything as heros. This is certainly the funniest one in the genre I have ever read. Like the other reviewers I laughed out loud many times.
Plenty happens - there is love, death, problems with the waterworks and literary criticsm. What more can you want?
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Russo has a control over his craft which must the envy of other writers. He creates characters so real in settings so believable that you instantly forget this is fiction and assume you are reading about people you know. This is one of his funnier books but the deceptive simplicity, the easy pace and the genuine characters you expect from one of his books are all there.
I love the unhurried way he allows this story to unfold, the subtle building of tension and the fact that I care about all of the people in the narrative.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to Straight Man the most enjoyable?
A delightful listen from beginning to end, packed with subtle and wry observations on all the characters. Although the story is essentially silly and focuses largely on the characters foibles and weakness, it does so with wisdom and kindness.
Have you listened to any of Sam Freed’s other performances? How does this one compare?
The narrator of Richard Russo's Risk Pool was much better. Sam Freed is a competent reader and captures the subtle wit but isn't one of my favourite voices and there were many occasions when I was confused whether a sentence was dialogue or reflection.
Any additional comments?
I was so pleased with Risk Pool I went straight on to this by the same author. My enthusiasm is still high so I will try a third.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
This was an enjoyable story which was time well spent, marred by the fact that Sam Freed's narration is devoid of nuance.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Straight Man?
The episode where Hank first threatens to kill a duck a day was a highlight of the plot.
What didn’t you like about Sam Freed’s performance?
When there is a lot of dialogue it sometimes becomes confusing, because he makes little effort to change tone for each character. Otherwise, he is quite good in his delivery.
I have long been a fan of Richard Russo and particularly have enjoyed listening to his books as talking books, as the readers bring the characters to life so well.
This book kept me involved from start to finish. I loved the different characters and their (often surprising) interactions. Sometimes I felt the 'hero' went too far but he always then did something that redeemed him - in my view.
At the end, I felt I had lost some good friends and I look forward to listening to another book by the same author, also to listening to this again after a few months.