- 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:
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Straight Man Audible – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
All I can say is that if it were possible, I would give it six stars instead of five. One of my biggest regrets after reading this book was that my enjoyment of it had come to an... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Loligag 1953
BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN SPOOF OF ACADEMIA. A VERY AMUSING AND LIKABLE MAIN CHARACTER WHO IS SURPRISING AND VERY FUNNY. READING THIS SET ME TO READING MORE OF THIS AUTHORS BOOKS.Published 9 days ago by joan THE READER
Absolutely wonderful read! I laughed out loud and thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.Published 10 days ago by Deidra
Written in first person and the book cleverly sort of just went on and on and sort ended.Published 11 days ago by Jack