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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

Main | Dyer, Geoff: Out of Sheer Rage »

Russo, Richard: Straight Man

  

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Vintage © 1998, 416 pages [amazon]
5 stars

I am not the kind of reader who regularly registers my appreciation of humor in books by laughing aloud. So it wasn't until chapter 28 of Richard Russo's Straight Man that I broke my silence. By that time the book's protagonist, William Henry Devereaux Jr., had landed in a situation too delightfully absurd for anyone, Mr. Devereaux included, to hold it in.

In the course of the book Hank is beset by the academic infighting that attends a university-wide budget crisis, by animal rights activists incensed by his on-air near strangling of a goose and his threat of further fowl play, and by his inability to produce satisfactory quantities of urine.Hank Devereaux is the acting chairman of a Balkanized English Department at an undistinguished university, the sort of place academics find themselves stuck in, La Brea Tar Pits-like, after the receipt of tenure and other of life's snares have eroded their ability to move on to better things. Hank is defined largely by what others perceive as his principal character flaw--he annoys his friends and family and makes enemies of his colleagues because of his failure to take most things in life seriously. He is, as a result, a very funny character.

Hank is also a devoted if somewhat oblivious husband, the sort who depends on his wife to balance the check book (Our portfolio, I'm to understand, is intact. This is good news. That we have a portfolio, I mean.); and a sympathetic dog-owner (I know and understand my dog well. We share many deep feelings.); and a one-book author; and the son of William Henry Devereaux Sr., a literary critic and author more distinguished but less reliable than his son. In the course of the book Hank is beset by the academic infighting that attends a university-wide budget crisis, by animal rights activists incensed by his on-air near strangling of a goose and his threat of further fowl play, and by his inability to produce satisfactory quantities of urine.

Richard Russo, on the other hand, is evidently the kind of man who cannot write a bad sentence. There are passages in Straight Man that demand re-reading, either because they are that funny or that well-written or because, for example, he has so captured the murderous annoyance that can come with wifedom and motherhood [pp. xiv, 136]. (How could he have known?) This is a book to be savored. It's as good as it gets.

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.