Review: Straight Man

Richard Russo (1997)

Hands down, my favorite book of the year.

Richard Russo (Mohawk, on my 1994 Book List and Nobody’s Fool, on the 1995 Book List) just keeps getting better and better with each new work. This time Russo’s irreverent main character is Henry Devereaux, a burned-out professor at a second-rate university. As an eager graduate, Hank took a job teaching creative writing, a stepping stone on the path to literary fame and fortune. Years pass and he’s still there, mired in collegiate politics and (hilarious) departmental rivalries. An overgrown class clown at heart, Hank lives to get a rise out of certain colleagues, making department staff meetings a real hoot. As time goes by, life throws a few lead weights Hank’s way, making it more and more difficult simply to tread water.


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