Managed Care - Book Review

Managed Care

Author: Joe Barrett
Genre: Fiction - Humor
Date Published: September 2, 2018

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Book Review of :  Managed Care


A master storyteller and humorist, author Joe Barrett confronts contemporary issues of senility, adult diapers and suicide with bizarre, laugh-out-loud humor. Managed Care is a hilarious story set in a typical for-profit nursing home that is the temporary residence of 33-year-old Frank Johnson.

          Frank moved into the home to keep his granddad’s integrity intact. Frank asks, “Do you think he’d be OK with the idea that the nursing home wouldn’t refund a year’s worth of living expenses even though he died before he had a chance to move in?” Embroiled with the management for a refund, Frank avails himself of the nursing homes amenities, including adult diapers. Think of the unorthodox character played by Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men. Frank’s long string of bad life choices, lunatic behavior, and quirky sense of justice compound when Elroy is forced into his life.

          Elroy, a pre-teen foster kid with a history of dysfunctional foster placements, is mesmerized by Frank’s outrageous behavior. Sally, a suicidal 12-year-old who communes with her dead aunt, joins the Frank and Elroy in clandestine adventures. Bullying, lying, and inappropriate actions have hilarious outcomes.

          Told in the first person voice of each of the three characters and typical of Barrett’s writing is Sally’s silent monologue, “And so we’re silent, for like three seconds.  And then Elroy cracks up.  And the next thing you know we’re all hysterical laughing.  And it’s like post-trauma laughing.  It’s like, we’re right in the flashpoint center of the bizzaro world, laughing. And I think the fact that we’re laughing so hard is because we’re together in it.  Like, togetherness laughing.  And I can’t believe I just met these two idiots, like, three days ago.”

          Then there are other misfits; Dr. Severs the creepy, psychotic middle school guidance counselor who stays high on pot and Sally’s divisional mom who tries to manipulate and control her daughter.

          Somewhat reminiscent of James Michener's last novel, Recessional, also set in a nursing home, this story confronts real-life issues.  Although somewhat sacrilegious and /or irreligious, the convoluted plot celebrates, “bad choices for good causes”.

          I grinned reading page one. I chuckled reading page two. By page three I laughed out loud. This irreverent farce with idiotic characters has a redeeming conclusion.

About Joe Barrett


Award-winning author Joe Barrett has spent the past twenty-five years as a chief executive of entrepreneurial organizations ranging from private, venture-funded companies to large publicly-listed multinational corporations. He has been a frequent speaker at National Retail Federation conferences and has sat on the boards of several for-profit and non-profit companies. His short fiction has been published in Iconoclast, The Storyteller, and The Palo Alto Review. He lives with his wife and two children in New Jersey.

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