- Paperback: 110 pages
- Publisher: Rothco Press (March 27, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781941519363
- ISBN-13: 978-1941519363
- ASIN: 1941519369
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,617,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mutt Paperback – March 27, 2015
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Patrick is new to town and when a hot Mexican-American girl at the bus stop invites him to a party, he jumps at the chance. But the invitation isn't all that it seems and ethnic 'mutt' Patrick is forced into an initiation in which he becomes an inked member of notorious Mexican gang, Los Reyes Locos. Patrick's life disintegrates into a whirlwind of violence and death from which he can see no escape except in a body bag. There is no need for ghosts or demons in this story, the corruption festers at the core of the brotherhood. I had previously read a story by Shane McKenzie in William Cook's visceral collection Fresh Fear, and the piece scared me silly, so I was interested to see how he would tackle a longer form. Just as effective. Shane's McKenzie's writing is a fast and ugly slap to the side of the head, the kind that leaves you reeling. With prose that is sparse and matter of fact, McKenzie belts out a story that kicks at the heart of social identity and hierarchy. Recommended.
McKenzie's writing is very visceral. As in his previous work, Muerte Con Carne, there is plenty of action and violence. Yet while Muertes Con Carne is clearly a horror tale, Mutt is closer to a suspense and crime tale and throws in a lot of human drama into its characters' development and emotions. Patrick is mixed race but is frequently mistaken as Mexican. Patrick is based on the author's own situation and speaks of his own dilemma as being judged as someone he is not. While the author is taking his queues from his own life, I am fairly certain the actual plot is not auto-biographical or at least I hope not! The fictional Patrick's situation is extreme but it works as an illustration of one of our own inescapable issues in our American life; being judged on appearance and race rather than for who we really are. Mutt is just as much a coming-of-age tale about growing up in race and class torn America as it is an edge of your seat thriller about gangs and violence.
That is why this book and the main character of Patrick moved me so much. Patrick is a normal kid who wants to be accepted and wants the girl. He is tricked into a lifestyle he does not want for a girl who may have other plans for him. In the midst of this plot we have great writing that brings Patrick and the gang of Los Reyes Locos to life. There is no sugar coating. Shane is sleeping with cobras and he knows it. The scenes of violence are intense but fits squarely into the story and we see Patrick's own terror and bewilderment as he experiences it.
It is that part of McKenzie's writing that senses the horror of life choices when it collides with the human-created horrors of society that makes me come back to his stories. Whether it is cannibal families as in Muerte Con Carne or homicidal gangs as in Mutt, the author goes deeper than the suspense and visceral thrills inherent in the tale and digs into the existential dread that one will find themselves in. I hope the author continues this exploration of the human side of dark social and racial themes in future stories. Even if he decides to just thrill and terrorize us I will be pleased. He does it so well. But he has the gift of social observation that does not ignore the individual psyche and I hope he uses it again.