Straight Man

Overview

Colby Winn, a repressed college professor, breaks out of his fastidious lifestyle when he impulsively picks up hitchhiker Ann Lee, an itinerant actress. As this mismatched love affair progresses, Colby descends into a tumultuous relationship which leaves him both vulnerable and violent. Past exposure to domestic abuse has Colby behaving in a manner that shocks even himself. An intensity unfolds surprising Colby's colleagues as he attempts to obtain his elusive dreams (or are ...
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Overview

Colby Winn, a repressed college professor, breaks out of his fastidious lifestyle when he impulsively picks up hitchhiker Ann Lee, an itinerant actress. As this mismatched love affair progresses, Colby descends into a tumultuous relationship which leaves him both vulnerable and violent. Past exposure to domestic abuse has Colby behaving in a manner that shocks even himself. An intensity unfolds surprising Colby's colleagues as he attempts to obtain his elusive dreams (or are they nightmares?).
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Though the title of Bingham's new novel suggests one half of a comedy team, the feelings of the protagonist, Louisville college professor Colby Winn, are no joke. When Colby picks up hitchiker Ann Lee Crabtree, his initial interest in the free-spirited woman almost immediately becomes obsessive. To his friends, particularly I. and Martha Weekly, who are expecting their first child,Colby's infatuation with Ann Lee seems like a good thing. But it's soon clear that he's out of control. In one of the book's many dead-on observations, the initial consummation of Colby's affair with Ann Lee leaves him devastated when she refuses to "play'' with him because he's too serious about her. Bingham uses the idea of playing, and Ann Lee's careershe's an intinerant actress whose current role involves both violence and on-stage romanceto pry open Colby's repressed memories, forcing him to review his failed marriage and his relationship with his physically abusive father. In fact, Colby has a violent streak of his own, which becomes more and more apparent as he watches Ann Lee rehearse her play and develop a relationship with Martha Weekly. Bingham (Matron of Honor) charts Colby's descent from lonely-but-likable to creepy-and-dangerous with sharp insights about the many forms that possessiveness takes, from the dashed expectations of new lovers (and new fathers) to the ramifications of biology as destiny. The novel's strength is the quiet authority with which Bingham writes, making her story disturbing, and disturbingly real. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
A lonely Kentucky college professor and a peripatetic young actress bring out the worst in each other in this lackluster romance by Bingham, author of the much better Matron of Honor (1993) and Small Victories (1992).

Colby Winn had hoped to leave behind his Kentucky-mountain roots when he graduated from Harvard, married the daughter of one of the university's department heads, and landed a respectable teaching position of his own. Within the decade, however, a divorce and subsequent expulsion from East Coast academia sent Colby back to Louisville and all the old conflicts he'd hoped to leave behind. Some of these long-suppressed passions emerge one day when, driving from his soulless home to his dreary state university classroom, Colby picks up a pretty young hitchhiker named Ann Lee. A Kentucky miner's daughter working her way across the country, Ann announces her plans to take an acting job in Louisville's theater company. Colby, instantly smitten, pursues her there and soon finds that the actress is easy to capture but hard to keep. As Colby and Ann exchange stories of his cold and abusive father and her dependent mother, Colby finds himself longing to establish a permanent alliance with this girl and at the same time, inexplicably, to drive her away. Shocking himself as well as everyone else when he picks fights with men who show an interest in Ann and even abusing the girl herself, Colby suggests a weekend driving trip to figure out what's causing such angst. In a lodge near Kentucky's Natural Bridge, talk of marriage soon disintegrates into violence, and before morning Ann, not surprisingly, is gone.

Colby's bland personality and Ann's frustrating elusiveness do nothing to inspire sympathy or interest. Bingham's more characteristic satirical tone would have been welcome in this love story of an uninteresting pair.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780944072653
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 244
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.59 (h) x 0.97 (d)

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