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Straight Man Audible – Unabridged

4.3 out of 5 stars 498 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 14 hours and 6 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: September 5, 2003
  • Whispersync for Voice: Ready
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0000D1BXI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bruce Kendall VINE VOICE on May 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
..then, "Jack..You Dead!
I had thought until reading STRAIGHT MAN that the standard for humorous novels with academic settings had been set by James Hynes. Russo is even funnier. His comic timing is akin to the great comedians of stage and sceen, like the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Moore & Cooke, etc. Yet not only is the man funny, he can flat out write, as well.
In STRAIGHT MAN, Russo performs a balancing act of surface playfulness combined with searing truths about life's missed opportunities and moments of quiet despair. Behind the one-liners and the buffoonery of Henry Devereux Jr.'s comic mask, exists an enigmatic, compassionate, troubled soul, whose personality disorder has been triggered by a single incident he shares with his mother when he is a young teen. His humorous guise is something he has created so as to safely retreat from the seperation anxiety that is his constant companion. To his friends and colleagues he is "Hank," easy to dismiss or to to ridicule, or in two instances, to physically attack (OK, three, if you count the goose!). Russo does a very subtle and masterful job of slowly developing the interior Henry Devereux Jr., however, and by the novel's end, the reader has been granted the full revelation of character and the whole man stands naked (figuritavely speaking) before us.
STRAIGHT MAN is definitely my recommendation of 2003, thus far. The funny bits are truly hysterical. The dramatic bits ring true to life. This certainly not just another humorous novel about Academia. It's as well written and well rounded as any novel I've read in recent years. I look forward with great anticipation to reading EMPIRE FALLS.
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Format: Paperback
Like one of the other reviewers here on Amazon, I stumbled across this book on a bargain rack and picked it up on a whim. I am an english major and thought the premise for the book looked promising, although having read it I think the duck cover does the book an injustice because this is not a slapstick, absurdist novel like the cover might suggest. Russo has written a contemporary masterpiece, a brilliant, serious novel that includes occasional scenes so funny you will laugh out loud. He pokes fun at today's climate of political correctness (one the of the assistant professors has been nicknamed "Orshee" because he is always correcting the automatic use of the male pronoun) and similarly lampoons academia with terrific results. You need not be a professor to enjoy his writing, and Russo's dialogue is maybe the best being written today. I have recommended this book to many people since I discovered it, and also enjoyed The Risk Pool and Nobody's Fool by the author. I can't wait for his next book. Read Straight Man you won't be disappointed.
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Format: Paperback
Ah, middle age. Some gray around the temples. Occasional regrets about missed opportunities. Finding one's self, to his or her embarrassment, thinking out loud. Plumbing that either stops up, or slows to a frustrating dribble.
Thus we enter the world of William Henry Devereaux, Jr., through the pages of Richard Russo's wonderful novel, STRAIGHT MAN. Henry, or "Hank," is the interim chair of a delightfully dysfunctional English department at a small Pennsylvania college. Because he doesn't want to turn out like the moody and disgruntled professors he works with, Hank refuses to take life seriously; whenever an earnest statement is uttered, Hank counters with an off-the-cuff witticism--in essence, every person who comes in contact with him becomes a "straight man." His demeanor has worn thin with his colleagues, even with his family, and over the course of a very eventful early spring week the midlife trials and tribulations of Hank Devereaux will come to a hilarious, yet endearing, fruition.
Russo writes a relaxed, comfortable prose; his humorous timing--while simultaneously keeping the main character's first-person point of view on target--is marvelous. Yes, Hank is a smart aleck, but he's a lovable smart aleck, thanks to Russo's powerful storytelling ability. Yet despite all the humour and wit, there is also a deep underlying theme of melancholy and angst, all of which makes STRAIGHT MAN a compelling and highly recommended read.
--D. Mikels
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Format: Paperback
There have been many reviews so I won't bore you with the details of this book. It should be read (and it's an easy read) because it is a delight to read Russo's words. He has an apparent ease, and therefore skill, with the English language that is as refreshing as a cold beer at a hot baseball game. He weaves and parries, his sentences like glissandoes over the keyboard. When you add the wonderful humor, laugh-out-loud humor, this is a book to carry in your car to read in traffic jams. The drivers around you will be astounded at your happiness and want the book referral. Have fun!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Through the glasses of Groucho Marx, Richard Russo's Straight Man gazes directly at the human condition in the context of the academic ecosystem.
Hank Devereaux is the temporary chair of the English Department at a mediocre state university. In this role, he sails the rough waters of the fragile egos of his contemporaries during April, not only the cruellest month but also a time of paranoia for faculty who are afraid they won't be hired back. (As an ex-secretary in higher academia, I can attest to the accuracy with which Russo nails down department politics.) In the week that his wife Lily is gone, Devereaux manages to get mangled, drunk, televised and jailed. But these are the smallest of his problems as he battles with his own mortality and tries to ignore the return of his father, whom he has tried to avoid turning into all of his life.
Unlike other writers of the absurdist academe subgenre, Russo creates characters that live beyond the pages of the book. Hank Devereaux has a sense of humor, but what makes him unforgettable is the secret sympathy with which he views the people he knows and the merciless philosophy he applies to his own and others' conditions.
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