By Gene Lyons
Updated July 18, 1997 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Straight Man

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  • Book
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Henry Devereaux Jr. is chairman of the English department at a third-rate state college in the Pennsylvania boondocks and the protagonist of the funniest campus novel since Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim. It’s Devereaux’s comically bad luck in Straight Man to preside over budget cuts that have his perennially squabbling colleagues at each other’s throats. Just as his daughter’s marriage begins to fall apart, his pompous professor father arrives on campus, and his own prostate starts acting up. As he’s previously demonstrated in books like Nobody’s Fool (the source of the acclaimed Paul Newman film), Richard Russo can penetrate to the tender quick of ordinary American lives like an unpretentious John Updike. A

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Straight Man

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  • Book
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