From: Kevin Burton Smith (kvnsmith@sbcglobal.net)
Date: 10 Jun 2009

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    Gonzalo wrote:

    > I must say I think the novel (THE DISASSEMBLED MAN by Nate Flexer)
    > is a far cry from Jim Thompson. The violence and the
    > characterizations are caricaturesque and the author can't seem to
    > strike a balance between the outlandish humor and telling a story
    > from the point of view of a sociopath (one recent novel that
    > accomplishes this pretty effectively is Iain Levison's Since the
    > Layoffs). In spite of the rough spots, I think it's an entertaining
    > first novel . I'll be on the lookout for more Flexer and New Pulp
    > Press titles.

    You're more patient with THE DISASSEMBLED MAN than I was, then. I had high hopes, but it turned out more cartoon than caricature, and what humour there was in it was more of the gross-out/train wreck variety
    -- a likely candidate for GUN IN CHEEK III, if Pronzini ever gets around to it.

    Granted, we all like different things. What disappointed me about this book -- what I felt was juvenile and self-conscious -- others may praise as fresh and exciting and the funniest thing they've read in years.

    And maybe I'm being too harsh on a first-time novelist, and should save it for the "big boys," as Dave calls them. But the author doesn't strike me as the sensitive type. In fact, he goes out of his way to prove he's about as sensitive as a hockey puck.

    In trying to establish his tough guy bona-fides, he crams every sentence, every paragraph, every clunky, self-conscious bit of dialogue with over-boiled similes ("red as a used tampon"), blatantly obvious metaphors, dime store psychobabble and prose so tortured only Dick Cheyney could love it.

    So what might have been a tight and effective, albeit obvious, tour through hell ends up just another neo nah entrant in the schoolyard spitting contest.

    Nor is the plot strong enough to pull the reader over the rough spots. Despite all the huffing and puffing, the story goes pretty much from A to B, with nary a detour along the way: slaughterhouse worker goes psycho about sums it up.

    Dave felt Parker's CALIFORNIA GIRL was obvious; this one was so obvious the twist ending (and the "surprise" rationale for his crimes) is pretty much blown by its own title. If you've read enough Jim Thompson (or enough Jim Thompson wannabees) you already know what will be coming.

    Not that anyone would be reading it for the plot, anyway. It's the writing, the publisher and the blurbers assure us, that's supposed to be the real treat here.

    One reviewer even called Flexer an explosive writer. I'm not sure about him, but his main character sure is explosive. At the least display of stress or suspense, he vomits. Or pisses his pants. Or craps in them.

    A typical sentence construct is "I was so (angry/upset/nervous) I
    (pissed my pants/threw up/shit myself). Repeat ad nauseum. Although he does on rare occasions exert some control over his bodily functions, as in the memorable scene where his car is so hot he pisses on the steering wheel so he can touch it.

    Yeah, people do that all the time.

    But mostly he seems unable to control any part of his digestive system, as when, trying to gain access to a rendering plant, he writes:

    "I pulled (the) keys out of my pocket. The first two didn't work. I panicked. The third key did the trick. I farted with relief."


    Maybe, in smaller doses, if the excesses weren't run into the ground, this might have worked. Obviously some people think this is hilarious stuff.

    But I felt the editor (if it was edited) showed as little restraint as the author. Yeah, this book is memorable, all right. Sorta like watching a grown man (the author is supposedly 33 years old) play with his own turds.

    Though that might be taken as a compliment for a book like this. Maybe they'll blurb me for his next book.

    Kevin Burton Smith www.thrillingdetective.com

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