I tried to read Richard Russo's Straight Man last night -- but couldn't get past the first 20 pages or so. I initially picked up the book in a bookstore and leafed through it -- it seemed to be a run of the mill academic satire, about a department head who threatens to execute a goose each day until he gets his budget from the Dean -- and finds out who must be laid off. The book's description of the protoganist's father made me chuckle -- "My parents were academic nomads...the academic position [my father] favored was the 'distinguished visiting professor' variety, usually created for him, duration of visit a year or two at most, perhaps because its hard to remain distinguished among people who know you."
Once I actually got around to reading it, the book was mildly annoying at best -- tiresome prose coupled with poorly crafted characters -- characters the reader immediately begins to dislike. After 20 pages of wishing the protagonist would immediately endure some fatal injury, I ended up looking for something else to read.