Straight ManRichard Russo
5 January 2017
Published by Allen & Unwin
Hank Devereaux is the reluctant chairman of the English department of a badly underfunded college in the Pennsylvania rust belt. Devereaux’s reluctance is partly rooted in his character – he is a born anarchist – and partly in the fact that his department is savagely divided.
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, poignant, compassionate and unforgettable.
After a while you begin to wish you lived in Richard Russo's world.
The author has never been funnier. It is a testament to Russo's skill and originality that Straight Man often seems as fresh as if it were the first of its sort.
Sentence by sentence Richard Russo shows that his is an eminently accomplished comic talent.
A funny and clever novel.
Times Literary Supplement