A Man Called Stan
by Jay Henning
Category: Fiction / General
160 pages; ISBN: 0595274145
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen
This book tells the life story of an average person named Stan. Told in seemingly random pieces, he experiences turbulent and quiet periods, as if he was traveling down a river.
In one section, Stan is heading to work,a nameless corporate sort of job that he hates. There is a new receptionist, a beautiful young woman named Anne. Stan eventually gets up the guts to talk to her. He asks her out on a picnic, but sleeps late on the day in question. Stan is able to redeem himself. One day, Stan sees Anne run into the arms of a handsome gentleman. Stan gets very depressed, and heads to a local bar for some serious drinking. Having a lifelong love affair with liquor, at a time like this, Stan doesn't settle for getting just drunk. Stan goes for extreme, record setting, waking up face down in the gutter, drunk. Stan doesn't talk to Anne for several days, until she tells him that the handsome gentleman is her brother.
In another section, Stan, as a 14-year-old, and Fred, his lifelong buddy, sneak into an adult party, where Stan starts his relationship with liquor. Stan also receives his first sexual experience, courtesy of Fred's mother.
Stan's children and grandchildren take him from his nursing home (where he has been living since Anne, his wife, died) for a picnic in the park. Instead of bringing along Harvey, his drinking buddy, Stan brings along Wanda, a fellow resident. Her family doesn't visit her, even though they live close enough to visit. Later, at the nursing home, Stan goes off by himself for a once a year ritual. He looks through a small photo album containing pictures of Anne, and their life together.
Through it all, Stan looks for meaning in his life, his place in the universe. He gets it at the end of the book, when all his friends have died, and Stan knows that his time is coming very soon.
I loved this book. Told in a very deadpan, third person style, with just a touch of strange, it's very easy to read, and easy to identify with. The reader will hate to see it end, just as I did.