Sunday, June 7, 2009

Review of The Disassembled Man

After reading The Disassembled Man (New Pulp Press, 2009), I was pretty sure the author, Nate Flexer was a pseudonym. (Nate Flexer is a pseudonym for John Basoff, proprietor of New Pulp Press. My instincts were right See comments). His author’s bio identifies him as a high school English teacher, and I’m pretty sure The Disassembled Man isn’t the type of book your typical school board member would take to bed with them. Flexer doesn’t appear to be a pseudonym, however, so maybe he teaches at a private school or has tenure or is married to the school board chairman or something because this is the sort of book that would make your average local politician go crazy.

Frankie Avicious has a pretty lousy life. He has a job slitting cows' throats at a slaughterhouse. He's in love with a stripper. His wife is fat, and her dad is rich, but he won't kick loose with any money. He's also a raging alcoholic who pukes more than a supermodel (there is more vomiting in this book than in any other book ever written). When Frankie receives a visit from a mysterious old acquaintance, he decides to get his life together. Instead of enrolling in community college, however, Frankie decides to kill his father-in-law for the inheritance. From there, it's off to the races, as the body count mounts, and Frankie's tenuous grip on reality becomes even more tenuous.

The Disassembled Man is a little rough around the edges, but it's a first novel, so roughness around the edges is to be expected. Flexer's main character is a little bit of a mystery, though. For a character with a bad (and I mean bad) background who has no education or interest in self-improvement, he's remarkably articulate. The fact that he's deeply, deeply crazy and has trouble keeping in touch with reality doesn't help either. It's entirely debatable, in my mind, if the last third of the book happens anywhere outside Frankie's head.

The Disassembled Man is remarkable for its ugliness. It's hard to think of a book with a character as despicable as Frankie Avicious. It turns out he has valid reasons for being as twisted as he is, but his unapologetic homicidal mania may be difficult for some to stomach. This Jim Thompson on mescaline story is not for the faint of heart.


Unknown said...

Flexer might have his own page, but there's someone else behind the name. Click here for my review.

Gonzalo B said...

I liked the novel but I agree with you there are certain rough spots. The character sounds for the most like a plainspoken lowlife and yet at times he becomes a surprisingly articulate individual (especially when it comes to his elaborately twisted and cynical sense of humor).

I also thought that the last third of the novel becomes gratuitously violent and over the top for no good reason. The fact that you can't determine if it's taking place in Frankie's head or not makes it somewhat implausible (one example of this is the big breakout scene and the ease in which it is pulled off). In any event, the novel is a pretty entertaining read. The sick humor might not be to everyone's liking but it's quite refreshing to read a noir novel that doesn't take itself too seriously. I actually thought the openly comical passages, such as the big boss man's visit to the slaughterhouse, were pitch perfect. Some of it reminded me of the equally humorous noir novel by Iain Levison, Since the Layoffs. I'll be on the lookout for more New Pulp Press titles.

Paul D Brazill said...

Sounds great to me. I think Keith Rawson also rates it so I think I'll try a slurp .