I’ve read all of the pre-2012 Richard Russo books at this point, but my first and favorite remains Straight Man. It’s a send-up of the stuff, absurd, and pretentious world of academia. I’ve rarely laughed so often when reading. It reminded me of Lucky Jim in many ways, which I’m sure was deliberate on Russo’s part, not that he necessarily wrote with your truly in mind.
Then I read Empire Falls, which got Russo a well-deserved Pulitzer. I wish I could say that every subsequent read was better than the one before it, but Straight Man and Falls are still my favorites. But Russo’s a great writer. I’ll always read his work, unless he goes totally off the rails and changes everything about his writing.
And if you’re looking for anything recent by the man, check out this New York times opinion piece about the plight of the modern-day bookstore.
As to the books, if you’re not sure where to start, you know my recommendations. But if you want the whole list to pick and choose from, here it is:
Novels by Richard Russo
The Risk Pool
Bridge of Sighs
That Old Cape Magic
Short Fiction by Richard Russo
The Whore’s Child and Other Stories
Yellow Silk: Erotic Arts and Letters
On Helwig Street
There you go. If I left anything out or you have a favorite you want to mention, have at it.