Vintage Contemporaries

Straight Man

A Novel

Publisher: Vintage
In this uproarious new novel, Richard Russo performs his characteristic high-wire walk between hilarity and heartbreak.  Russo's protagonist is William Henry Devereaux, Jr., 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 more savagely divided than the Balkans.  

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 and true-to-life, witty, compassionate, and impossible to put down.

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Chapter I

When my nose finally stops bleeding and I've disposed of the bloody paper towels, Teddy Barnes insists on driving me home in his ancient Honda Civic, a car that refuses to die and that Teddy, cheap as he is, refuses to trade in. June, his wife, whose sense of self-worth is not easily tilted, drives a new...
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READING GUIDE

The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your group's experience of reading Richard Russo's Straight Man.  We hope they will provide interesting new angles from which to examine this funny, poignant, and compassionate novel by one of the most compelling...
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