Sunday, November 04, 2007

THE BOOK OF STANLEY by Todd Babiak (2007)

I almost put the book down when I discovered that the Stanley Moss, a retired florist, is suffering from a brain tumour since a friend of mine is slouching his way towards death with the same ailment. However, Babiak throws a curve ball early on and Stan finds himself feeling unaccountably well on his way to see his palliative care MD. So well that he's able to hurl a couple of punkish teens up against a car en route, his retributive justice delivered by hand. Who wouldn't want to believe in this kind of wish fulfillment?

Other characters who seem rife for divine intervention find themselves making a pilgrimmage to Banff where Stan himself is heading because he is compelled to go with his wife Frieda. An unlikely troupe gathers: a 24-year-old hockey player who had once dreamed of making the NHL who has tossed his last punch in front of his young daughter; a 17-year-old Muslim woman who has disappointed her family in Montreal by having sex publically with a white boy; a 30-something entertainment executive who has just survived a concrete slab falling from the sky and narrowly missing her in her Hummer; and Moss's former brother-in-law Alok, a New Age guru who believes that Stan is the new Messiah.

Somehow Babiak manages to make this dark comedy about love, death, the afterlife and sasquatches, yes sasquatches, not only plausible but desirable.

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