I was working at a bookstore when "Straight Man" was first released and it made quite a splash. My compadres at the store were talking it up, and customers who read it thought it was a riot. I probably would have agreed if I read it at the time. But I didn't. Years later I dove into Richard Russo and read "Empire Falls", Bridge of Sighs", and "Nobody's Fool". I became an enthusiastic Russo fan, peaking with "Nobody's Fool". Then, I went back and finally got to "Straight Man". Based on Russo's other books I'd have to say he was just warming up in his career as a novelist. It was fun. It was a quick read. And if it had been the first or only Richard Russo book I had read I'm sure I would have found it to be a hoot. But it wasn't. It was the last one I read and it pales in comparison to the others. I'd still recommend it as an introduction to Russo, but if you've read any of his others you might be disappointed. Next up -- his memoir, "Elsewhere". But I sure hope he has a few more novels in him.