The residents of Study House in part one are college students in the mid-1990s who are uniquely afflicted with various mental disorders. Confined to the same dormitory on the campus of a prominent university in the Midwest, the students form a coterie of sorts that is largely kept separate from the student body but that is under intense scrutiny by the administration.
The dorm residents do their best to navigate the difficulties of their conditions as well as campus life.
Part two catches up with several of the Study House residents twenty years later. Some have become successful while others have struggled, but they each feel a connection to one another, believing that their shared college experiences have somehow shaped their middle-aged selves. Standing in Doorways contains pathos and humor, attempting to answer what it means to be lost and what it means to be found again.
A little about Wes first:
Wes Payton has a B.A. in Rhetoric/Philosophy and an M.A. in English. His play Way Station was selected for a Next Draft reading in 2015, and What Does a Question Weigh? was selected for a staged reading as part of the 2017 Chicago New Work Festival. He is the author of the novels Lead Tears, Darkling Spinster, Darkling Spinster No More, Standing in Doorways, and Downstate Illinois. Wes and his family live in Oak Park, Illinois.
Karen Meyer’s Review: 4-Stars
I knew by the title it would be a strange book. The main character Vivian Leigh was just that, strange.
I read it word for word and am not sure what kind of audience would appreciate it. I guess it’s a mystery of sorts, but you don’t really know that until the last part of the book. But even then you’re not really sure what happened and what didn’t, so I guess that does make it a mystery. Okay, at least that is settled.
Now to figure out where it took place. The setting you would say takes place at a college campus somewhere, but then you find out later, it was a book she had written. You also find out that she actually did go to college and this may have really happened. She may have killed her roommate’s father. She may have actually had a roommate that she loved even though she knew he was gay. Did she kill her roommate? Did she have a roommate to kill? Did he commit suicide? I am assuming she did kill his father since “Psycho” spent time in prison for the murder.
Anyway, weird story and one you usually shake your head and can hardly believe you wasted your time reading the whole thing. Reviewing it is not the only reason I finished reading it. I admit it did hold my attention and I wanted to see how it ended. Weird or not I would give this book 4 stars.
Elkin Hardcoves’ Review: 5-Stars
Standing in doorways: the phrase engenders many related concepts. One
can stand in a doorway in respective to a changing period in one’s
life. One can stand in a doorway in regards to one’s uncertainty of
how to proceed. One can stand in a doorway in regards to being
excluded, or feeling excluded from a social group, and even at times
wanting to be separate from a particular group. All of these
conceptualizations related to the phrase are present in the work
“Standing in Doorways,” by Wes Payton.
Let me warn you upfront, if you want a light work that is free from
grappling with deep and thought-provoking concepts, then this isn’t
the work for you. Wes Payton tackles some pretty potent notions here
and at times the pathos presents itself quite powerfully.
The caste includes:
Vivien, who begins the narrative, and serve as the major protagonist
and character linking all others together has considerable difficulty
understanding facial expressions or understanding body language.
Vivian Jr, a young man that helps Vivien with understanding body
language, and initially describes himself as have an excess of
empathy, but later reveals that he has a condition described as
Peter is another young man at the same college, who is described as a
psychopath, which is a debatable label.
Patty, a young woman at the same college, who is described as having a
constantly shifting personality.
Lastly, there is Digy, a young man that is part of a federal program
to make the English language easier to understand.
These five serve as the major characters of the drama, although other
characters play important secondary roles. What is more, through
them such themes are examined as education; the role of
higher-learning as both a product of commercialization and as a
desirable means for improving the human condition; of the
responsibilities that humans have towards one another; of the power of
caring to cause people to change; and above all in the power of moving
I know, this review doesn’t go into much detail of this work, because
I’m intentionally limiting myself, as there is much I could say if I
decided to, but above all, it is my deepest hope that you too will
actually read this book.
I’d give it a five.
Please feel free to share your review in the comments.
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