"When you are in the gutter, you may as well wallow."
Stan is a man's man, low on introspection and sensitivity but high on impulse and testosterone. Fortunately for him, his adventures and misadventures range from mildly amusing to downright hilarious. He turns the daily grind plus any outstanding events of his ordinary life (ranging from boyhood home to nursing home) into entertaining vignettes. The antics that many red-blooded males would love to try but don't dare, Stan gets away with. At any rate, there's nothing that a drink or two (or ten) and a quick apology can't fix, right?
Like most guys, Stan manages to marry and reproduce, increasing his philosophical qualities. There's nothing like responsibilities and a mid-life crisis to lead the mind into a deeper rumination about life. A good wife makes the situation easier. Stan even becomes concerned about current issues like human greed and environmental degradation. Ultimately, Stan must face the end of his journey alone and meet… well, one find's out when one gets there. In some ways, Stan's transition at this stage is as "ordinary" as his life was.
The story arc is a bit unusual as the narrative seems to flash forward at times to Stan's elderly life, the opposite of the literary tendency for characters to recall their lives in flashback. The writing is at times wordy but still manages to leave no stone unturned. However, the author hits the jackpot with his characterizations and strong understanding of the male psyche. He does well enough with the female side of the equation too. Structured in some ways like a modern myth, this book should appeal especially to those who enjoy a bit of philosophical pondering in their fiction.
If you are a woman, wishing to know the hows and whys of men; if you are a man searching for yourself or wanting a little camaraderie; if you are a soul in human form trying to remember why you are here, A Man Called Stan is a must read. Who is Stan? He is a man, sometimes raucous, sometimes pitiful, but always very real. This book is a look into the stages of his life.
What are the most important stages of a man’s life? When he meets his future wife? When she walks down the aisle to him? When he drinks himself into hangover after hangover? The moment he learns what sex is about? The moment he realizes that sex isn’t enough? The moment his child is born? The realization that he has become an old fart? All of those, and more, are shared with the reader. All the while, we are wondering just who this guy is, and so is he.
The author has shown us an example of man. For women, it may be an enlightening experience. For men, it may be a confirmation that they are not alone. More than this, the author gives us the wisdom of a life guide. There are lessons to be learned here. Through it all though, there is humor and interest and a story that we want to read.
Stan may be fictional, but his life events are all too real. You will laugh out loud, get angry with his indignation and feel for his sorrow. This book will have you reading through a weekend and waking up Monday morning with a new outlook on life. Or, maybe you’ll just smile at the good time you’ve had.
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.
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
The Stan of the opening pages is an admirable picture of unrelieved depravity. Jay shows brilliant invention in this picture of Stan.
Jay overcomes the limits of sequential narration by division of Stan’s life in chapters that present a logical rather than a chronological order. The spillover effect of this is illuminating and economical since the gaps in the life need not be dealt with. When we see Stan first at a home for the aged and then in the process years before of his courtship of Anne, we easily fill in the period that Jay ignores.
Anne is Stan’s salvation. Through her he achieves maturity and a happiness that does not depend on instant and self-destroying gratifications. Whenever he looses his sense of direction, a mysterious old man appears with his psychedelic bottle of recreational medicine and steers him back to the course whereby he can understand both himself and the world he lives in.
A work that began in ruthless realism has adopted a fantasy edge. Certainly the continuous vitality of the book derives from those gritty opening pages. These are, however gritty, continuously interesting. The introduction of reflective passages and fantasy elements is a step away from the kind of novel that the opening leads one to expect. Stan is the anti-hero, the sublime heel and it is with reluctance that one reads of his salvation but it is Jay’s story to tell and he makes a good thing of what he does.
The opening pages may be too strong a dose for sensitive readers. Certainly Jay has begun well and it is with interest that I look forward to his next book.