2008: 182. Straight Man

“Truth be told, I’m not an easy man.  I can be an entertaining one, though it’s been my experience most people don’t want to be entertained.”

Straight Man, Richard Russo

I am generally a Russo fan, but this book was not to my taste.  It is the story of a run-down professor at a run-down Pennsylvania University, as he drifts through his life, taking nothing seriously and making a general mess of things.  It is, like The Ginger Man and the works of Philip Roth*, the kind of book that people call “hilarious” and I find super stressful.  I have a hard time with these stories of people ruining their lives by their own aimlessness.  I know such people exist, believe me, but I don’t find them hilarious.  The story exhausted me, as the professor runs through his life getting into trouble and never taking any real action at all.   Enough novels about people adrift in life - at least if I am going to read such stories I want them to be serious examinations of people who are stuck (like Russo’s Empire Falls) not comedy.


*Maybe I should have taken it as a sign when the cover blurb says its the funniest novel the blurber had read since Portnoy’s Complaint, since that is another book I don’t find so funny.


Date/Place Completed:  11/14/08; D.C.

Categories:  Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017