Brett's Reviews > Straight Man

Straight Man by Richard Russo
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's review
Nov 14, 2011

really liked it
Read in November, 2011

Hank Devereaux is a jaded professor at a small Pennsylvania college. He's the chair of the English department, which is filled with petulant has-beens and never-weres. Richard Russo writes about these characters in a way that makes me believe that many of them are based on people he knows. He captures the frustration of academics who longed to secure a tenured position at an elite university, but had to settle for whatever they could get. Hank is at once easy to like and dislike, as are many of the other characters in the book. His inability to take anything seriously is entertaining for readers, but maddening to his colleagues, and Russo capitalizes on this. Many of the other characters mean well, but just come off looking like fools.

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