A LIKELY STORY
By Will Stanton
$9.99 paperback; 167 pp.
Will Stanton was a pretty well-known author a decade ago.
His byline was regularly seen in Reader’s Digest, Woman’s Day and other general circulation magazines of the day. He was primarily known as a first-person essayist who wrote about his family and his own experiences. But he also dabbled in fiction. He published two books of short stories, one a kind of novel-in-short-stories much like many collections you see now. Then there was this book, a wry novel that tells the story of Warren Plowright (and mostly he does plow right), who has just turned 34 in the year 1973, owns a San Francisco music shop and the building where the store is located. He lives in an apartment above the store. He doesn’t drink much, go out much, do anything out of ordinary. Then his “girlfriend” rejects his marriage proposal and tells him he’s too timid. Warren goes out for a drink or 10, hangs out with some rowdy sailors and “Three days later outside of New Burton, Utah, I set fire to a house and drove away in a stolen car with a mobster shooting at me.”
As Stanton leads the reader from the end to the beginning, the twisting turns of Warren Plowright’s life on the lam are fodder for the author’s own inventive sense of humor. Warren is a sort of everyman, an ordinary guy who finds out he can do extraordinary things when he’s in a pinch. The cops want him and the mob wants him and there’s no place to turn. Except that Warren does turn and runs into a wacky cast of characters that includes a pretty blonde pulling a sailboat down the road, a would-be burglar who breaks into a house that Warren has already broken into, some inept gangsters, a troupe of itinerant hillbillies straight out of The Grapes of Wrath and a few good samaritans who help him stay a fugitive.
It’s a short read and the humor is more of the gentle kind that made sitcoms family fare in the 1960s. Gentle and yet funny.
This novel might never have been published if Stanton’s daughter, Linda Stanton French, had not persisted after her father’s death. She knew that Stanton still had many fans around and they’d want to see this, his last book. So she published it herself and is marketing it, mainly on the Internet. Stanton’s old readers — and new —will be able to find it there.