“Patrick Douglas’s new novel is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.
Frankie Funder is the story of a Lewistown girl whose life begins with her ranch hand father being disappointed she’s not a boy (he names her Franklin anyway) and with her mother so uninterested, she abandons the family.Injured in a traumatic accident, Frankie grows up bald and scarred. She’s larger than most boys her age, and later, most men. Hers is a lonely existence.The linear narration of her life is intersected with scenes of perhaps her ultimate madness, cannibalism of a man whose identity is unknown through most of the story. As a young child, Frankie eats a spider after her father kills it. “For Frankie, she once again felt a bond with her long-legged friend. Death was a non-issue. The fact that they were together again was all she cared about,” Douglas wrote. “She imagined her friend coming back to life in her body and finding a place to make a home so they could be together forever.”
The family dog meets a similar fate during Frankie’s teen years.
Rich in symbolism, the book explores the idea of how a series of choices—not all of them one’s own—dictate the course of one’s life.
After she’s forced to have an abortion at age 13, she’s bullied and committed to a mental institution. Then her father dies and Frankie “had been brewing a terrible hatred and aggression inside of her,” Douglas wrote.She finds some relief as a slaughterhouse knocker, where she fires the shocking pistol into the heads of cows to knock them unconscious in preparation for slaughter.
“This was the front line in the plant and the place where she could possess a power she’d never felt before,” Douglas wrote. “She showed no emotion and did it with such precision that there was hardly a chance for the loader to take a break between cattle.”
The “Michael Jordan of knocking” takes to hunting. As she examines the first deer she’s bagged, Frankie says, “Aren’t you ever curious about death? Don’t you ever wonder about life? Why something can be alive and full of energy one minute and a leaking, blood-filled bag of nothing the next?”
As her grip on reality loosens, she encounters Adeasols, subterranean humanoid creatures who cannibalize the elderly and others deemed less necessary.
When they kill her Adeasol friend, “her Utopian view of the Adeasols was completely crushed and all he could see was evil and death around her just as she’d experienced in the world above ground. They were horrible.
Babies died and were discarded like scrap metal, teeth were rudely pulled from the mouths of youngsters and the elderly were murdered and eaten … it was like hell without the fire and brimstone.”
— Kristen Inbody, Great Falls Tribune