Thursday, 23 April 2020
PABLO D'STAIR - MAN STANDING BEHIND (2011)
Leaving work on a nondescript evening, Roger is held up at gunpoint when he stops at a cash machine. He attempts to hand everything in his bank account, but robbery isn’t on the gunman’s mind.
Roger is told simply to walk.
The gunman takes him on a macabre odyssey―from city pubs to suburban neighborhoods to isolated homes in the country―and as the night presses on, a seemingly not-so-random body count grows around him.
A moment-by-moment exploration of moral paralysis, Man Standing Behind charts the psyche of a random man caught in the roils of a mortal circumstance nothing to do with his own life. Is he a witness, a victim…or something altogether worse?
Praise for MAN STANDING BEHIND:
“This is where D’Stair shines. He has the ability to take a situation, one which might traditionally be addressed emotionally, and analyze it to the point of emotional emptiness. Life and death…is not a fight or flight, subconscious decision, but is one to be pondered, examined, weighed against context.” —Caleb J. Ross, author of Stranger Will, I Didn’t Mean to be Kevin, and The Soul Standard
Different, strange, puzzling yet curiously satisfying.
A man is forced to bear witness to another's controlled rampage of murder and an obvious settling of old scores, grudges and grievances. The fact that this is recounted in a matter of fact monotone makes it all the more disturbing.
Roger is abducted at gunpoint from a cashpoint and is forced to accompany the gunman on a long night of terror. Fear, paralysis, curiosity, apathy, resignation, hope, loneliness are ever changing companions during the evening that passes.
Fear - of robbery, of violence inflicted on him, of death.
Paralysis - opportunities present themselves at various times, to escape, cry for help, fight back ..... none are seized, all are over-thought, over-analysed and as the moment passes, ultimately avoided
Curiosity - who are the gunman's victims, what have they done to deserve their fate, why is Roger party to this, how's it all going to end.
Apathy - I can't influence this
Resignation - I think I'm going to die
Hope - maybe there's a way out
Loneliness - who will miss me
There's a starkness and reality to the scenes described that you don't often encounter in crime fiction. Death and extreme fear of death can provoke bowel loosening and voiding and it's not pretty. There's nothing exploitative here or titillating........ just pared down prose and an interesting drama played to a conclusion.
Pablo D'stair - he's a bit of a cult. Maybe 40 or 50 novels to his name. This was my first of his, but not my last. Originally published in 2011and recently brought to a new audience by All Due Respect Books
4.5 from 5
Read - March, 2020
Published - 2011 (2019)
Page count - 112
Source - copy received from Chris at the publishers
Format - paperback