Audax Books (2020)
Reviewed by Mark T. Sneed for Reader Views (05/2021)
“American Slaughterhouse” is only seven chapters and written as Doc Cage’s journal that was declassified after his death at the age of forty-nine. This is fiction, first and foremost. I love the book. I am not sure what that says about me as a person because Doc Cage is demented.
Antonio Rivera is this complicated character in American Slaughterhouse. Riviera is a Mexican American who is battling with his heritage against his family who see him as white because he was a combat medic who served in Afghanistan. Again, it is complicated. Antonio Rivera is also Tony Cage the paramedic who comes back to the states and finds himself unmoored. I have to admit that I loved the craziness of the narrator. He is so distant and unable to pretend to care. I am a little worried that I liked the main character Doc Cage as he continually battles with his inner demons daily as he imagines he has contracted coronavirus.
In this complicated story, the schizophrenia of Doc Cage is on full display for the reader as Antonio Rivera believes he has contracted the virus and starts down this dark road. He exhibits symptoms but refuses to be tested. He has distanced himself from his wife. That distancing has nothing to do with the virus. Doc Cage after having sex with his wife maybe a thousand times was done with her physically. Yet, when his wife seeks some satisfaction in the senior home where Doc’s father died, Doc seeks the man pleasuring his dissatisfied wife. Of course, I imagined Doc would kill the old man who had pleasured his wife. American Slaughterhouse is nothing if not unpredictable. Doc befriends the man who has been fondling his wife, and they both commiserate over her traits. Again, a wild ride.
For most of the book there is this feeling of urgency and ping-ponging back and forth from now to flashbacks. The only thing I did not enjoy was the ending. It seemed so out of step with the journaling format of the 90% of the rest of the book. The ending is jarring. I know it is needed, but I expected a stronger ending. Still, highly recommend “American Slaughterhouse” by Doc Cage.