Thursday, December 27, 2007
Richard Russo, Straight Man
Richard Russo, Straight Man. This was hilarious. Better than Empire Falls (which struck me as a little bit cute - or at least the dirty old man Max was too much), even it doesn't have the same American Novel seriousness. Once again though, the main characters are disaffected acerbic middle aged men. The protagonist, Hank, is a jerk, but you have to enjoy him and identify with him (unless you are ALL sweetness and light, I suppose). He's a decaying second-rate academic at a second rate public university with one novel "favorably reviewed by the New York Times" to his credit. He likes to view himself as an outsider, an unpredictable "loose cannon", and ends up holding a duck (no, a goose) hostage over university politics. It's an academic satire as funny as Moo, and the situational and verbal comedy impossibly escalates as the plot unfolds.