Straight Man by Richard Russo
A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries)

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William Henry Devereaux, Jr., spiritually suited to playing left field but forced by a bad hamstring to try first base, is the unlikely chairman of the English department at West Central Pennsylvania University. Over the course of a single convoluted week, he threatens to execute a duck, has his nose slashed by a feminist poet, discovers that his secretary writes better fiction than he does, suspects his wife of having an affair with his dean, and finally confronts his philandering elderly father, the one-time king of American Literary Theory, at an abandoned amusement park.

Such is the canvas of Richard Russo's Straight Man, a novel of surpassing wit, poignancy, and insight. As he established in his previous books -- Mohawk, The Risk Pool, and Nobody's Fool -- Russo is unique among contemporary authors for his ability to flawlessly capture the soul of the wise guy and the heart of a difficult parent. In Hank Devereaux, Russo has created a hero whose humor and identification with the absurd are mitigated only by his love for his family, friends, and, ultimately, knowledge itself.

Unforgettable, compassionate, and laugh-out-loud funny, Straight Man cements Richard Russo's reputation as one of the master storytellers of our time.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Richard Russo

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Richard Russo is the author of Mohawk, The Risk Pool, Straight Man, Nobody's Fool, and Empire Falls, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and a collection of stories, The Whore's Child. He and his wife live in coastal Maine.
Published November 9, 2011 by Vintage. 418 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Straight Man

Kirkus Reviews

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A gloriously funny and involving fourth novel from the author of such comfortable-as-old-shoes fictions as Mohawk (1986) and Nobody's Fool (1993).

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Straight Man: A Novel (Vintag...

The Guardian

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Richard Russo is best-known for writing novels about small-town American life: a string of under-read (in the UK, at least) barfly classics, set in blue-collar towns in the space between New York and Canada, and often bringing to mind an even funnier, more earthy John Irving.

Sep 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Straight Man: A Novel (Vintag...

Star Tribune

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It's been done before, and to attempt a novel about academia is a risky departure for Russo, given that so many novels of university life read like in-school (so to speak) send-ups.

Jul 12 1997 | Read Full Review of Straight Man: A Novel (Vintag...


He’s the kind of smart that dumb people hate, because they know he’s totally insulting them.

Jan 21 2009 | Read Full Review of Straight Man: A Novel (Vintag...

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