American Creamy is one of those books that manages to hook you in and make even the most prude-ish of readers feel as if they’ve spent their entire lifetimes submerged in a world filled with hardcore drugs, violence, and sex.
Author Jonathan Spradlin drops you into the Dallas County Jail-specifically the infamous Behavioral Ward-and wastes little time in allowing the reader to use all of his or her senses to take in the setting. Spradlin himself is originally from Dallas, Texas, and the plot takes place in various parts of the city.
The characters will initially fool you into thinking they’re entirely one-dimensional hoodlums then turn around and throw every expectation you had of them back in your face. “Preacher man” Ezekiel Thomas narrates the majority of the story, though we also get many story-line shifts once he meets the strange-yet-intriguing Eben Thomas.
The two protagonists share a fascinating “ability” to see visions, which Preacher Man calls “the cream.” How they deal with these “hallucinations” becomes the bulk of the story. This is also where the tale crosses over into more philosophical territory. Eben opts to use drugs to get rid of his hallucinations, while Preacher Man embraces his visions and takes note of them. Preacher Man sees his ability as a gift, while Eben believes he is completely losing his mind. Is it a true sci-fi element, or is it simply two mentally ill men who are relating to each other through shared bouts of psychosis? That’ll be up to you to decide.
As mentioned before, the main hook of this novel is its gift for being able to take you right into whatever action is taking place in that particular time in the story. You’ll be able to feel flames burning and the tingling sensation of sexual intercourse as if you’re somehow experiencing the “cream” yourself. The imagery ranges from psychedelic to downright unsettling at times, but like all guilty pleasures you find yourself having to see it through to the end.
Beyond that, there are some truly remarkable instances sprinkled throughout each chapter. You’ll find yourself having to stop to take in a particular paragraph or piece of dialogue spoken by one of the eccentric characters.
Though the journey through the plot can be bizarre and sexually-charged, American Creamy isn’t a novel to pass up. With its mixture of social commentary, poetry, and philosophical musing, this is definitely a must-read for anyone interested in one of the most thought-provoking escapes currently available from a native Texas writer.