With a musician’s ear for dialog and a painter’s eye for detail, William Herman creates characters to reveal universal truths about human relationships. The stories in The Man Who Beat Life are often ironic and tragic, but never boring. In PAIN, a woman’s visit to the doctor becomes a complex and life-changing event for both of them. JUDAIC STUDIES portrays a scholar on vacation in Vienna contacted by a former student; but all is not what it seems and he gets much more than he bargained for. In NEWS: Herbie, a city Jew, has a hard time getting through to his wife, Linda, a rural southerner. But when visiting her mother back home, Linda faces realities that bring her closer to her husband. In HEARTLAND, when Pete meets Chancy, a Cambodian refugee, he falls in love, but his childhood buddy, Ellis, won’t commit to being best man. In the weeks before the wedding, they dance between personal bonds and general prejudice. SMOKE revolves around a son’s remembrance of his father and the rugged geography of father-son relationships. In ARMOIRE a daughter battles the lasting repercussions of her parents’ divorce and struggles to resolve her disappointments with her father. I’M NOT GLORIA: Jacob Feschbach has enough trouble in his life, but then his “painintheass” father comes back from the dead. THE MAN WHO BEAT LIFE is a tale with a twist: an uninvited dinner guest is brought to Thomas and Annie’s dinner party, and spellbinds the guests with an improbable tale of a psychiatrist’s patient who longs for love. The question that arises in the minds of readers is, of course, is it possible for any person — man, woman, child — or even any animal to beat life? Do the stories that we tell to ourselves and to others about experiences, real and imaginary — stories left behind for other generations to share, reinterpret, and enjoy — do they make it possible for us to “beat life” at least for a while?