By (author) Richard Russo
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Straight Man by Richard Russo
Book DescriptionHank Devereaux, a fifty-year-old, one-time novelist now serving as temporary chair of the English department, has more than a mid-life crisis to contend with when he learns that he must cull 20 per cent of his department to meet budget. Half in love with three women, unable to understand his younger daughter or come to terms with his father, he has a dangerous philosophy that life, and academic life, could be simpler, but he fails to see the larger consequences of his own actions or of the small-world politics that ebb and flow around him, as his colleagues jostle for position and marriages fall apart and regroup. The despair of his wife, and the scourge of the campus geese, he is a man at odds with himself and caught somewhere between cause and effect.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780099376217
(198mm x 129mm x 26mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 4-Jun-1998
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Richard Russo
My Bookstore, Paperback (April 2017)
This updated edition, published for the first time in trade paperback, includes all-new essays to celebrate eight additional stores. My Bookstore is the enthusiastic, heartfelt, sometimes humorous tribute by 92 known authors to their favorite independent bookstores.
Everybody's Fool, Hardback (January 2017)
The great American master Richard Russo, at the very top of his game, returns to the characters who made Nobody's Fool (1993) a contemporary classic.
Nobody's Fool, Paperback (January 2017)View all books by Richard Russo
A much-needed new edition of Richard Russo's warm-hearted tale of a down-at-heel loser who gets a chance to change his luck.
US Kirkus Review » 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). Writing teacher William Henry "Hank" Devereaux Jr. is a one-shot novelist (Off the Road) who's settled into an embattled stint as department head at an academic sinkhole where he finds it prudent to simply tread water and go with the flow (anyway, "promotion in an institution like West Central Pennsylvania University was a little like being proclaimed the winner of a shit-eating contest"). Hank tries to keep his wits about him by adopting the philosophical principle known as Occam's Razor (that the simplest explanation of a phenomenon or problem is usually the correct one), but his life keeps getting in the way. A nearby married daughter is having husband trouble. The state legislature promises to eviscerate his departmental budget. Hank's "crushes" on various women, including a colleague's adult daughter, complicate his otherwise passive devotion to his no-nonsense wife Lily. And, in addition to possible prostate cancer, Hank is assailed by even more undignified woes: His nose is bloodied by a poet's notebook, and he's suspected (with good reason) of murdering a goose - and of even worse things - by a hilarious, vividly rendered cadre of fellow academics, townspeople, and students, each of whom is sharply individualized. Though the quests for tenure and priority are generously detailed, and though Hank's relationship with his long-absent father reaches a satisfying closure, plot is only secondary (or maybe tertiary or quaternary) in a Russo novel. This latest seduces and charms with its voice (i.e., Hank Devereaux's): Laconic, deadpan, disarmingly modest and self-effacing, it's the perfect vehicle for another of Russo's irresistible revelations of the agreeable craziness of everyday life. Besides, how can you not like a writing prof who counsels an overzealous student to "Always understate necrophilia"? (Kirkus Reviews)
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Book Review: Straight Man by Richard Russo - Reviewed by CloggieA (08 Oct 2015)
"What ails people is never simple, and William of Occam, who provided mankind with a beacon of rationality by which to view the world of physical circumstance, knew better than to apply his razor to the irrational, where entities multiply like strands of a virus under a microscope"
Straight Man is the fourth novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, Richard Russo. William Henry Devereaux Jnr, (Hank) at almost fifty, is interim chairman of the English department at the (chronically underfunded) West Central Pennsylvania University in Railton. A certain week in April sees him enduring quite a variety of trials, both mental and physical. It all starts in a meeting where he is nasally mangled by a colleague. Or does it? Perhaps his absent father has had more influence that he admits. Russo subjects his protagonist to bouts of overactive imagination, the suspicions and petty politics of colleagues, his students' decided lack of promise,...
Author Biography - Richard Russo
Richard Russo is the author of seven previous novels; two collections of stories; and On Helwig Street, a memoir. In 2002 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls, which like Nobody's Fool was adapted to film, in a multiple-award-winning HBO miniseries. He lives in Maine.
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