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Straight Man: A Novel de Richard Russo
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Straight Man: A Novel (original: 1997; edição: 1998)

de Richard Russo

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
3,4941003,679 (4.04)204
William Henry Devereaux, Jr., spiritually suited to playing left field but forced by a bad hamstring to try first base, is the unlikely chairman of the English department at West Central Pennsylvania University. Over the course of a single convoluted week, he threatens to execute a duck, has his nose slashed by a feminist poet, discovers that his secretary writes better fiction than he does, suspects his wife of having an affair with his dean, and finally confronts his philandering elderly father, the one-time king of American Literary Theory, at an abandoned amusement park. Such is the canvas of Richard Russo'sStraight Man, a novel of surpassing wit, poignancy, and insight. As he established in his previous books --Mohawk,The Risk Pool, andNobody's Fool-- Russo is unique among contemporary authors for his ability to flawlessly capture the soul of the wise guy and the heart of a difficult parent. In Hank Devereaux, Russo has created a hero whose humor and identification with the absurd are mitigated only by his love for his family, friends, and, ultimately, knowledge itself. Unforgettable, compassionate, and laugh-out-loud funny,Straight Mancements Richard Russo's reputation as one of the master storytellers of our time. From the Hardcover edition.… (mais)
Membro:Patrick311
Título:Straight Man: A Novel
Autores:Richard Russo
Informação:Vintage (1998), Paperback, 416 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
Avaliação:****
Etiquetas:Nenhum(a)

Informações da Obra

Straight Man de Richard Russo (1997)

  1. 51
    Small World de David Lodge (browner56)
    browner56: Very funny treatments of academic life from different sides of the Atlantic Ocean
  2. 20
    Moo de Jane Smiley (wademlee)
    wademlee: Academic satire, humorous & outrageous. Those in Academe will recognize themselves or their colleagues.
  3. 20
    Portuguese Irregular Verbs de Alexander McCall Smith (goose114)
    goose114: Another story of academia with a witty sense of humor.
  4. 21
    Changing Places de David Lodge (BeckyJG)
  5. 10
    The Shakespeare Requirement: A Novel de Julie Schumacher (achedglin)
    achedglin: Both books have beleaguered professors and serve as academic satire. They share a well-crafted style and real understanding of character and their capacity for human foibles.
  6. 00
    The Financial Lives of the Poets de Jess Walter (BeckyJG)
  7. 00
    Tomcat in Love de Tim O'Brien (sturlington)
  8. 00
    The Lecturer's Tale de James Hynes (sturlington)
  9. 01
    Back in the Game de Charles Holdefer (hairball)
    hairball: Straight Man is what Back in the Game should be.
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» Veja também 204 menções

Mostrando 1-5 de 98 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Een docent Engels probeert zich staande te houden wanneer op een tweederangs universiteit de verhoudingen tussen collega’s en vrienden behoorlijk onder druk komen te staan door diverse bezuinigingen ( )
  huizenga | May 19, 2024 |
Recommended by the National Book Critics Circle in their summer picks for most humorous literary works. This is my fourth (?) Russo book and I'm starting to weary slightly of his patient wives and overbearing parents but for anyone who's been in academe, this book is pretty damn funny. ( )
  monicaberger | Jan 22, 2024 |
William Henry Devereaux, Jr. (Hank) is a professor of English and its interim department chair at a small, underfunded college in central Pennsylvania. He seems to treat everyone and every situation with a dose of satire which to me is very off-putting. This book describes his life for one week near the end of a spring semester. He is married t Lily and has two daughters, one married, living nearby, and attempting to build a house similar to her parents. However, they are in financial trouble. Lily is applying to another school district since she wants to serve as principal of her high school. Hank is dealing with adjuncts who want to know if and how many classes they will be able to teach in the fall and tenured professors who want to know if they can teach extra classes, but so far he does not know if funding will be available. Then there is the threat of cuts to his department along with other departments at the University. He is constantly being asked about this. All this week he is also dealing with trying to pee. He thinks he has a stone, but all x-rays and tests show that not to be the case. While his wife is in Philadelphia dealing with her father and attending the interview, Hank holds a goose up while challenging the administration to give him his budget or else he will kill a duck everyday until they do. Eventually, he ends up in jail and in the hospital before Lily gets home. I found very little humor in this book. Hank is forever challenging authority and comes across as a jerk since he cannot avoid pulling people's chains--why that is I do not know. ( )
  baughga | Jan 14, 2024 |
Straight Man begins with the death of William's new dog, Red, and ends with the needless death of his dog, Occam.

One more stupid thing that William did not follow up on.

Why doesn't he just go to the doctor and spare reader all the funky pee details?

Why cut down trees for no viable reason?

Why keep trying to strange the terrified goose?

Why is saying you will kill ducks funny in any way/

^^^^^^^^

The best thing after enduring the lengthy repetitive University English Department is
to be inspired to visit the extraordinary life of William of Occam.

^^^^^^^^

1/8 through book and I don't care about any of the characters except Occam - this lasts to the end of the book. ( )
1 vote m.belljackson | Aug 6, 2023 |
I successfully read this book.
Spoilers Abound.

My friend Tom loves it. I wonder if it is more appealing to men. Our hero was such a nut! I enjoyed reading about some of the academic conflicts and plots and drama.
And it was pretty positive overall.
  franoscar | Apr 27, 2023 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 98 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
The narrator of Richard Russo's hilarious fourth novel is a man
whom nearly everyone finds exasperating. It is not hard to see
why. William Henry Devereaux Jr. can never swallow a quip or a
saucy comeback, nor does he try to. Stick a wisenheimer like him in
a dour, paranoid college English department (has there ever been
another kind?) and comedy can practically be guaranteed. But
Russo, the author of the novels ''Mohawk,'' ''The Risk Pool'' and
''Nobody's Fool,'' is interested in more than generating laughter, and ''Straight Man'' strikes me
as the funniest serious novel I have read since -- well, maybe since ''Portnoy's Complaint.''

Comfortably, if complacently, married, and the father of two grown daughters, Hank
Devereaux is a midcareer academic a month shy of his 50th birthday. Like most of his tenured
colleagues, he is amazed still to be ensconced at West Central Pennsylvania University, a
third-rate state school. ''We have believed, all of us, like Scuffy the Tugboat,'' he says, ''that
we were made for better things.'' But while committee work, departmental politics, annual
budget cuts, puny raises and ''the increasingly militant ignorance'' of students have soured and
embittered his fellow academics, Hank refuses to sing the professorial blues, to participate in
feuds, to bed any students or to curry favor with Dickie Pope, the oily and malignant campus
executive officer.

It does seem possible, though, even likely, that being stuck for so long (two decades and
counting) in the stale and dreary town of Railton has made him reckless and a little bit crazy.
After all, here is a man -- the interim department chairman, no less -- who will gleefully tease
the touchy and extravagantly perfumed faculty poet, then find it entertaining when she hauls
off and slams him in the face with a fat notebook, bloodying his nose and hooking his left
nostril with the barbed end of the spiral ring. ''People who know me,'' he says, ''refuse to take
me seriously.''

Which is just how he wants it.

Which is not to suggest that Hank Devereaux does not have his devils. His chief devil happens
to be his own father, a philandering ''academic opportunist'' whose books of trendy literary
criticism guaranteed him a career of cushy appointments at the best universities. All intellect
and no heart, the famous scholar abandoned his wife and young son for the pursuit of
academic laurels and the smiles of pretty female graduate students. ''I have inherited from my
father most of what I had hoped to avoid,'' Hank muses in one of his many endearing
moments of self-deprecation. ''When all is said and done, I'm an English professor, like my
father. The most striking difference between him and me is that he's been a successful one.''
At the age of 29, Hank published a novel called ''Off the Road.'' It was respectfully received,
but quickly remaindered. He has never started a second one. These days, when he writes at
all, he writes satirical columns about university life for the local newspaper.

As in Russo's earlier novels, there is a lot of ambling and driving around, and frequent stops
along the way. Plot is a minor consideration. Things happen, of course: in a concentrated
period of time, less than a week, Hank's ailing father shows up in Railton, and his younger
daughter's rocky marriage abruptly ends; Hank is arrested, hospitalized, charged with
dereliction of duty and romantically pursued by a colleague's daughter. The novel's greatest
pleasures derive not from any blazing impatience to see what happens next, but from pitchperfect
dialogue, persuasive characterization and a rich progression of scenes, most of them
crackling with an impudent, screwball energy reminiscent of Howard Hawks's movies. (In its
most inspired set piece, Hank -- wearing a fake nose and glasses -- appears on local television
facetiously threatening to kill a duck a day until he gets a department budget. ''This is a
nonnegotiable demand,'' he snarls. ''I want the money on my desk in unmarked bills by
Monday morning.'')

Hank's perambulations and cumulative misadventures in his town-and-gown world, like that
famous Irishman's around Dublin, are fateful ones. Always infusing the comedy are sadness
and smothered panic. ''I appear to be a man in trouble,'' Hank finally admits to himself while
hunkered in a filthy ceiling crawl space, about to eavesdrop on his convened department
mates. It occurs to him that perhaps all of his anarchic Robin Williams-type role playing
might actually be a deep-rooted ploy to self-destruct.

Russo is a traditionalist when it comes to conclusions. His meandering stories inevitably bring
their major players to a new place, or at least to a new vantage on things. Before ''Straight
Man'' ends, in an epilogue that jumps us from April to August, Hank Devereaux has run an
emotional gantlet, and he has been changed by the experience, though not, of course, changed
utterly. He has made a tolerable peace with himself and his predicaments. For Richard Russo's
small-town Americans, contentment is always understood as a temporary state, just as
exuberant high spirits are recognized as a thin, but useful, disguise for sorrow.
adicionado por browner56 | editarThe New York Times, Tom De Haven (Jul 6, 1997)
 

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William Henry Devereaux, Jr., spiritually suited to playing left field but forced by a bad hamstring to try first base, is the unlikely chairman of the English department at West Central Pennsylvania University. Over the course of a single convoluted week, he threatens to execute a duck, has his nose slashed by a feminist poet, discovers that his secretary writes better fiction than he does, suspects his wife of having an affair with his dean, and finally confronts his philandering elderly father, the one-time king of American Literary Theory, at an abandoned amusement park. Such is the canvas of Richard Russo'sStraight Man, a novel of surpassing wit, poignancy, and insight. As he established in his previous books --Mohawk,The Risk Pool, andNobody's Fool-- Russo is unique among contemporary authors for his ability to flawlessly capture the soul of the wise guy and the heart of a difficult parent. In Hank Devereaux, Russo has created a hero whose humor and identification with the absurd are mitigated only by his love for his family, friends, and, ultimately, knowledge itself. Unforgettable, compassionate, and laugh-out-loud funny,Straight Mancements Richard Russo's reputation as one of the master storytellers of our time. From the Hardcover edition.

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