Sunday, September 13, 2009

Book Review: Nate Flexer, The Disassembled Man (2009)

In the genre of noir sociopathique, drama commonly comes from two sources: the cat-and-mouse game between the law and the sociopath and/or the uneasy excitement that the reader may feel in vicariously participating in sociopathic behavior (and in wondering who the next victim will be). Neither of these, however, is much of a factor in The Disassembled Man. There is a lawman, yes, but he stays pretty much in the background, and the crimes of our sociopath, Frankie Avicious, are about as dramatic as the action of the buzzsaw. The focus of the plot, therefore, is mainly on watching Frankie deteriorate--but as the narrative becomes increasingly outrageous and surrealistic, readers may lose interest in Frankie as they become increasingly unsure how reliable his first-person narrative is. Beyond this, some readers may enjoy the novel as black comedy, especially in the aggressiveness of its metaphors, as in, "My throat got as dry and tight as a frigid virgin in bed with a bald insurance man," or, "I cried like a teenage prom-queen runner-up cutting red onions after burying her dog in the backyard." For me, though, a little of this goes a long way. Grade: C

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