Homo sayswhaticus, a collection of short stories by satirical author Lance Manion, is of that small genre of books that, when being read, finds the reader pondering why on earth he is reading such a book. Notice the assumption that the reader is male; Manion has (purposefully) alienated an enormous portion of his potential readers by gearing the whole book to the minds of immature college-aged men. A good portion of Manion’s work revolves around the restroom; Homo is assuredly not for the faint of heart. If this topic fails to disturb the reader, the rest of the book is quite philosophical and even somewhat worth reading.
Throughout the text, Manion includes many relatable stories. These are, however, thoroughly mixed in with the afore-mentioned disrespectful and outrageous tales. One must be paying attention to gain anything substantial from this book, which is what the author intended. Speckled through this collection of short stories are little gems of philosophical ponderings such as why movie theatre concessions are so expensive and why sneaking in one’s own snacks is not a solution. At one point, Manion contemplates the needless complexity of toothpaste, wondering why each brand sees fit to change the flavors every once and a while even though, Manion assumes, no one was complaining about the previous state of the toothpaste.
One of the many reasons that this book goes against the norm lies in the fact that Manion insults the reader almost as often as he insults himself, and never claims to be a good writer. This combination allows Homo to be a bearable read. The advertisements for the book made no attempt to avoid the fact that it is indeed an antinovel; even the “About the Author” section is a tongue in cheek imitation of normal books. (After reading this section, one would assume that Lance Manion is merely a pseudonym of Ren McCormack from the film Footloose.)
Because Homo is honest from the start about its intensions, it is a relatively good book. It is geared towards a specific audience, and anyone outside (and in some cases inside) the demographic of college-aged men is sure to be offended at least a little. This is, however, the entire point that Manion is trying to make with his book. He specifically states that Homo sayswhaticus was written not because he thought someone would like to read it; rather he wrote because he wanted to. He goes on to state that all of the bad grammar and lack of detail or proper conclusions are intentional. Manion states that he wrote in this style in order to help his readers be inspired by his stories and create some of their own. The choice of believing this explanation or merely thinking that Manion did not wish to read his own work in order to edit it is up to the reader.