Saturday, March 17, 2012

Man Standing Behind by Pablo D'Stair

After reading D'Stair's series about small-time con man Trevor English, I knew I needed to read more of him. Also, because he's apeshit bonkers, his books are free. (Go look him up on Smashwords.)

The latest one I read is Man Standing Behind, and damn if it isn't one tight piece of writing. The premise is genius and simple: Roger is waiting in line at an ATM when a dude with a gun comes up behind him. But it turns out this guy doesn't want money. He wants Roger to accompany him on a journey. The journey has many stops in which the man catches up with old friends and acquaintances... and proceeds to shoot each one of them, seemingly for the joy of it.

D'Stair is a remarkably disciplined writer. The real payoff of this book is everything you never learn about--Why Roger? Why is this guy killing everyone he knows? Why doesn't Roger do anything about it? Who is Roger, besides a guy who is being forced to go places? D'Stair keeps his focus narrow to the point of absurdity.

At the end, I was unsure if this was a work of suspense or a work of anti-suspense. In fact, I was uncertain of literally everything. And it's D'Stairs ability to generate this unnerving experience that makes him brilliant.

1 comment:

  1. Chris, you are too good to me, always (and I'm working on a review of Watch You Drown, too, though honestly I really wished you'd called it Watch Watch You You Drown Drown as per the cover design, haha, that would be an amazing title, I was kind of sad it wasn't the thing)

    And just a note about "man standing behind" in case anyone is interested--it is one of a set of four novella (not plot-wise related, just written to be a set) collected in "they say the owl was a baker's daughter: four existential noirs" which is, as Chris says, free