Straight Man

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First edition

Straight Man (New York: Random House, 1997) is a novel by Richard Russo set at the fictional West Central Pennsylvania University in Railton, Pennsylvania. It is a mid-life crisis tale told in the first person by William Henry Devereaux Jr., the unlikely interim chairman of the English department. Notable moments include the chairman's hiding in the rafters as the faculty vote on his dismissal, his threat of killing a campus pond goose every day until the department receives a budget, flirtations between faculty and students, satires on academic scholarship and stardom, and love and health in the season of grace. It is rumored that the material for this book came from Russo's experiences teaching at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Southern Connecticut State University or at Penn State Altoona.[1]


  1. ^ "The Inspiration for Russo's Novel Straight Man (talk given by the author) on NPR Media Player". November 6, 2012. Retrieved 2013-11-02.