So I’m giving away 15 copies of my novel, but with a major caveat: the version I am giving away is rife with typos and mistakes (it has since been copyedited), has a unresolved ending that you will most likely hate and/or feel cheated by, the font size of the text is one point too large, the cover features a self portrait that makes me look like a Bon Jovi chick (which may further confuse people about whether I am a boy or a girl), the back copy seems like it was written by a copywriter on a cigarette break, and the subject matter is dark and generally referred to as “not for everybody” and led one reviewer to proclaim, “HUH?” Not to mention the pompous title that doesn’t make any sense. But hey… what the fuck, it’s FREE. And it comes with a money-back guarantee: After reading it, if you still feel like you’ve had a fucked up childhood, you get a full refund. HOW CAN YOU LOSE?!? Enter now:
This issue features the “Institutionalized” story cycle, which is an exploration of one event told from the individual perspectives of four participants. Picks up where The Nasty Dear (Piltdownlad #4) left off: from the Jackson group home in Anniston, Alabama, to Hill Crest Hospital, a mental hospital in Birmingham, where my brother Joey is put in the Youth Ward and I end up in the Adolescent Ward. Meanwhile, our father and Rick come home to discover their fate: a potential life sentence for child sexual abuse. Interspersed among the narrative are actual court records from the trial, newspaper clippings, song lyrics, photos and other miscellany. As with all issues of Piltdownlad, not for the fainthearted or the hardhearted.
LETTERS AND COMMENT
The “INSTITUTIONALIZED” story cycle:
1. The Adolescent Ward
2. Shit on A Shingle
5. The Hanged Man
6. Mister Nice Guy
8. Feeling Blocks
THE ZINES I READ
Available through Amazon.com
A Masque of Infamy is a horrific and raucous story of teenage rebellion. But instead of “What d’ya got?” fifteen-year-old Louis Baudrey knows exactly what he’s fighting against…
After moving from Los Angeles to small town Alabama in 1987 with his father, his younger brother and this guy Rick, Louis tries to fit in at the local high school, but the Bible-thumpers and the rednecks don’t take too kindly to his outlandish wardrobe and burgeoning punk attitude. At home, he defies the sadistic intentions of Rick, who rules the household with an iron fist. As Louis begins to lose all hope, he stumbles upon indisputable proof that will free him and his brother from Rick’s tyranny. But just when he thinks his troubles are over, he’s locked up in the adolescent ward of a mental hospital, where he must fight the red tape of the system to realize his dream of being a punk rocker.
“A Masque of Infamy captures the screaming, up-from-the-toes intensity and torment of the United States of Adolescence. No one who reads this book will be left unchanged by its savage and unforgiving beauty.” – Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight
“The overwhelming rawness of Kelly Dessaint’s story about children attempting to navigate a world completely fucked up by adults is like a punch to the chest.” – Davida Gypsy Breier, Xerography Debt
“Kelly Dessaint twists the horror of growing up in a highly dysfunctional American family into a hilarious tale of survival. Detailing the trauma of being institutionalized as a teenager after having taken revenge against an abusive father figure, A Masque of Infamy is a story about stubbornly overcoming the odds to live long enough to tell the truth about just how shitty it is to be a kid in this country.” – Lydia Lunch
For more information, visit:
THE PHONY LID PAGE FOR A MASQUE OF INFAMY
The Cult of Teddy Ruxpin was the brainchild of Brett and Vic. As the outcasts of Saks High, they found great pleasure in being contrary. Since the Christians were always talking about devil worshippers and cults, they decided to start a cult of their own. The stuffed talking bear was the most absurd icon they could think of to worship. They scrawled “Teddy Ruxpin Rules” all over school, on desks, cafeteria tables, their lockers and the bathroom walls. There were slight variations, such as, “Teddy Ruxpin Is God,” “All Hail Teddy Ruxpin,” or “Teddy Ruxpin Is My Savior.” But the message was always the same. They knew it was stupid, but it alleviated the boredom. And it pissed off the Christians. So that made it worthwhile.
— from A Masque of Infamy & Piltdownlad No. 8.5 – The Cult of Teddy Ruxpin (the zine)
In 1986, when I was fifteen and Joey was eleven, we moved from Los Angeles to a small town in Alabama. Our father, a sergeant in the Army, was transferring to Fort McClellan outside a place called Anniston. Along for the ride was this guy Rick, a friend of the family who was also in the Army. We left the day after Christmas. It was the first time Joey and I had ever been outside the urban sprawl of Southern California.
Six months later, the old man and Rick were in prison, Joey was in a Christian group home and I was in a mental hospital.
For me, things were looking up.
The adolescent ward of Hillcrest Sunrise Hospital wasn’t so bad. The food was decent. I had friends and things to do. Among the depressives, the suicidals, the pot smokers, the bulimics and anorexics, the white girls who dated black guys, the atheists, the queers and the borderline schitzos, I was in good company. The freaks and rejects of small town Alabama were my kind of people. Sure, the doors were locked, the windows were thick plexiglass, we had video cameras aimed at us all the time and a full battalion of psych techs patrolled our every move—I was institutionalized without a doubt—but Hillcrest was a dreamland in the sky compared to the shelter where they put Joey and me when we were first taken into custody.
That place was a real shithole.
An Excerpt from Piltdownlad #4