Special thanks to my good friend and colleague, Tom Powers, for providing us with this week’s review!
Imagine yourself as author Stanley Warren, living in the mid 1970s and recently divorced, but well-educated in that you hold a Master’s degree in English. Moreover, you have served five years in the New York City government, which makes you quite accustomed to white-collar professionalism. After a while, however, you yearn for a career change since both the Buddha and the Devil beckon.
Consequently, what lifestyle alteration do you embrace in your mid-thirties?
You undergo Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training, of course, and find a job working on an ambulance, better known as a rig, in the heart of Detroit, a.k.a. “Murder City!”
The Meat Factory, Warren’s memoir of his frenetic 2½ years serving as an EMT in the Detroit Fire Department, will dramatically place you into his skin as he and his various rig partners speed from one eventful scenario to another. Sometimes, their medical adventures verge on the hilarious as they encounter patients who simply crave attention from strangers – as in the case of one wily old man faking a heart attack. At other times, when it comes to the ever-present junkies who are looking for a way to be chauffeured to the hospital in order to score pain pills, the darker side of humanity manifests itself.
Then there are the unexpected moments in Warren’s searing memoir that plunge you into the most heart-wrenching of situations. One such chapter presents Warren gently helping a panicking mother dying of cancer reinsert her oxygen tube into her throat with the poignant words, “I know what you’re going through. My mama went through the same trip not too long ago.” While in another chapter, Warren diligently administers CPR to a dead baby who suffered from spinal meningitis for the effect of letting the concerned parents know that someone cares enough to attempt to save their child.
At this point, if you are perhaps thinking The Meat Factory serves as Warren’s self-inflated celebration of his heroic commitment to the constantly suffering citizens of Detroit, you will be shocked – and intrigued – by the fact that Warren offers a true “warts-and-all” portrayal of this period in his life. To this effect, Warren unflinching shows himself routinely smoking joints on the job, fighting with difficult co-workers, struggling with the lure of taking illicitly-earned money off an unconscious patient, and hobnobbing with prostitutes.
In this publishing age, when books are more or less being produced to serve as vehicles to be potentially optioned for television and film, readers and Hollywood producers alike are searching to discover that next “big” concept. The Meat Factory, then, with its flawed, caring protagonist zooming with his colorful EMT partners across the violent streets of 1970s Detroit in the desperate hope of saving one more life, is exactly that type of “high-concept” properly which would translate well into tomorrow’s hot HBO or Showtime hit!
To obtain a copy of The Meat Factory, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Review by Tom Powers