The Disassembled Man was my third read from author Jon Bassoff and his debut novel, from his other two stories the darkly disturbing Corrosion and the instantly forgettable Factory Town it would be interesting to see where this one would go. The Disassembled Man is told in a brash, maniacal first person narrative in true psychopathic style with lashings of dark and dirty humour.
Frankie Avicious is a man with a plan, one that’s creeped up on him over time, shitty job at the slaughterhouse and a wife who has loads of potential in the wealth department but has let herself go somewhat over the years. Change is coming, he’s making promises he can’t possibly keep but that’s not going to stop him trying and once you take the first step there’s no going back.
First off, he’s in love with a stripper who sees him more as a stalker than a love interest, he hates his obese wife with a passion but her father is the big knob on the hill, a man with serious money. Now how can he get his hands on all that money and run away with the stripper of his dreams? It’s gonna take some careful planning, or maybe not, let’s just kill the old man, wife will inherit the money and then kill her, simple as.
Prepare yourself for a ride of carnage as possibly the most morally repressed man you’ve ever come across dives into a killing spree that would make psychos are us extremely proud.
Ruth is the wife and it would be fair to say that Frankie’s love for her has waned just slightly over the years.
‘She had more rolls than a bakery and more chins than a Hong Kong phone book.’
Tongue in cheek humour and violence follow after an argument.
‘I should tell you now that Ruth suffered from a rare psychological disorder called insanity. The doctors gave her medication to stabilize her moods, but she must have forgotten to take her magic pills that day. In the wink of a con artist’s eye, she went from behaving like a loving housewife to a wild-eyed psychopath.’
And the punch that changes everything.
‘but in all my life I don’t think I’d ever landed a better blow than this one. My fist vibrated, and she just stood there for a moment— the way a cartoon character remains suspended after walking off a cliff— then her knees gave way, and she collapsed to the floor.’
Frankie then has to win his Ruth back after she storms off, with money at the forefront of his mind, when he finally manages to convince her of his love it comes at a cost. A steamy night of passion and some hilarious scenes as Frankie in his mind goes to battle with a sexual tyrannosaurus.
‘Then, like a Japanese kamikaze pilot, I readied myself for destruction. I dove into bed and was quickly smothered by the beached whale that was my wife.’
A mysterious traveling salesman named Jack Marteau takes an interest in hard drinking Frankie’s fate as it becomes just a matter of time before he gets what’s coming to him.
The Disassembled Man is a cringingly entertaining trip that has plenty of laughs, a war zones worth of violence and slaughter, some deranged family moments including incest and more than a fair share of depravity. All for money, the root of all evil but it’s never that easy or we’d all have plenty of it. If moral fortitude and goodness of heart is what you’re after then you’re knocking on the wrong door with this story, prepare yourselves is all I will say.
Words by Paul Nelson