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Book Information: Straight Man

Straight Man (1997) [Novel]
by Richard Russo Rating: Weighted - 9.3 / Average - 10.0 of 10 (1 votes) (Rate!)
Reviews: None (show them) Review!

Summary :

In this uproarious new novel, Richard Russo perfroms his characteristic high-wire walk between hilarity and heartbreak. Russo's protagonist is William Henry Devereaux, Jr., the reluctant chariman of the English department of a badly underfunded college in the Pennsylvania rust belt. Deveraux'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 philandeering 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.

Original title: Straight Man
Original languages: English


Genre: FictionGeneral FictionHumor


  • Cover design by John Gall
  • Author photograph by Marion Ettlinger
  • Book design by Caroline Cunningham
  • The Prologue to Straight Man was originally published, in a slightly different form, as "Dog," in the December 23-30, 1996, issue of The New Yorker.
  • For Nat and Judith

Edition #1: Straight Man

Straight Man (1997)
Edition Details:

Language: English

  • "[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." Henry Kisor, Chicago Sun-Times
  • "Bursting with humor and insight." USA Today
  • "By turns hilarious and compassionate" Chicago Tribune
  • "Russo has established himself as a thoughtful, ironic, and gifted comic novelist. With Straight Man, he confirms his place as one of the few modern satirists who not only shows the foibles of his characters, but also demonstrates their compassion, humility, and sense of humor." Orlando Sentinel
  • "A delight . . . [Straight Man has] a kind of buoyant sarcasm." Dallas Morning News
  • "The humor prompts big belly laughs, and the pathos sets tears to flowing." Houston Chronicle
  • "There is a big, wry heart beating at the center of Russo's fiction." The New Yorker
  • "The funniest serious novel I have read since--well, maybe since Portnoy's Complaint." Tom De Haven, The New York Times Book Review
  • "Russo can penetrate to the tender quick of ordinary American lives." Entertainment Weekly
  • "One of our most adept surveyors of the human landscape." Philadelphia Inquirer
  • "[Russo] surrounds the tragic awakening of small-town characters with humor while still preserving their poignancy." Milwaukee Jounral-Sentinel
  • "A rich, complex novel . . . with sharp language and sharper imagination, [Russo] delivers the most engaging and rewarding cast of characters of any novel in recent memory." Time Out
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Manifested in:

Straight Man (June 1998)

Format: Paperback
Place of publication: New York
Publisher: Vintage Books
ISBN: 0375701907
Dimensions: 5.23 x 8.14 x .91
Pages: 416

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