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August 11, 2007



Nobody holds a candle to Russo. I know exactly what you mean about gasping during many of his passages -- and laughing out loud. He's truly a master.

I'd also highly recommend Pat Conroy's "Prince of Tides" -- I did a lot of gasping through that book, too. (Forget the movie).


I read Prince of Tides many years ago, when it first came out, and loved it. The movie was one of the worst I've ever seen. Barbra was SO WRONG for that role.


Standing in the front of the R’s at the little strip-mall used bookstore, I saw the red spine, the title Straight Man and the face of the white duck. Piquant. I pulled the book from the shelf, started reading the first page of the prologue and I forgot about whatever it was that I had been looking for. William Henry Devereaux Jr. is a man of about my own age and, although he inhabits a different position than I, both with respect to profession and geography, I felt at once that I had something in common with him… several something’s in common. Hank is trying to make the most of the end of his career; so am I. Hank’s successes, such as they had been, had come early, as had mine… such as they had been. Hank is a practical and pragmatic skeptic, as am I. Hank and I have our differences. He lives in the east; I live in the west and have never been east. Hank inhabits the world of academia; I am an academic wanna-be. Notwithstanding, I felt as though I knew Hank and his world. Hank and I are both curmudgeons-in-training, with a slightly acerbic perspective on our situations and those around us. Straight Man was my introduction to Russo but it was and still is my favorite novel. As a tribute to Hank, I have adopted Occam’s Razor as the operating principle of my life and it has served me well.

What I had not foreseen
Was the gradual day
Weakening the will
Leaking the brightness away
Stephen Spender

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