Reviewer Chris Detloff: Chris is a former community newspaper reporter who has turned his love for writing into a side career as a freelance writer. Chris regularly contributes to several publications throughout Central Minnesota including the food and lifestyle magazine Central Minnesota Style, The Central Minnesota Builders Association home show magazines, and local seasonal publications.
Author: H.P. Stanly
Author: H.P. Stanly
In Memoirs of An Extraterrestrial; the Negro Conundrum, author H.P. Stanly treats readers to more than 300 pages of fictional short stories following the life of Homam – an otherworldly spirit brought to life on Earth in the form of a Black male.
Homam begins his incarnated life as a child in early 1950s America, born to a White mother and Black father. From the beginning of the book we learn that Homam has an unexplained disdain for Black individuals in general. He particularly finds disgust, however, with his Black father. While it initially seems odd for a young child to have such strong feelings toward individuals of his same race, the reader quickly learns why: Homam, who believes he is White, doesn’t find out that he’s Black until the age of 8 by seeing his reflection in a mirror during a visit to the optometrist.
For young Homam, this experience sets in motion a lifelong effort to discover the secrets to his true nature – who he is, where he came from, and to solve the mystery behind his much-advanced physical and mental capabilities.
Stanly uses the short stories to piece together Homam’s personal puzzle as he progresses through life. From a reader’s perspective the stories are often humorous, intriguing, always a little gritty and eye-opening, and never short on entertainment value. But it’s not just entertainment that Stanly has wrapped into Memoirs. He managed to use the fictional stories to deliver his own personal criticisms of Black culture in America, mainly the ways Black leadership has failed their own race time and time again.
Homam’s longing for truth about human behavior brings him through a wide range of experiences. We find him living through both the decadence and depravity of working as a daytime talk show producer, we observe the ups and downs of his many romantic relationships, we are given insight into the many personal risks he takes in order to satisfy his curiosity about humans living on the fringe of “normal” human behavior, and we discover time and time again that his strong will and moral attitudes keep him centered amongst it all.
Without spoiling a climatic end for readers, it can be said that Stanly ties together Homam’s search for personal meaning and brings a close to a mystery that carries through in each of Homam’s experiences throughout the book.
It should be reiterated that while entertaining, the reader should expect to take away a certain perspective on Black culture from Memoirs. This is the type of writing that takes some time to properly digest. Stanly writes to create deeper thinking and to bring about intense discussion about what it means – or doesn’t mean -- to be Black in America today.