Tag Archives: the baudrey boys

A Masque of Infamy Goodreads Book Giveaway

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:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Masque of Infamy by Kelly Dessaint

A Masque of Infamy

by Kelly Dessaint

Giveaway ends October 27, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


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A Masque of Infamy – The First Edition

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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

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Sucks, Alabama

We started the new year in Saks, a small community just north of Anniston near Fort McClellan. The three-bedroom brick house the old man rented was on the main road, down the street from a convenience store.

When we moved in, the utilities hadn’t been turned on yet. Our furniture was still in transit, so we only had what we’d packed for the trip. We spent the first couple evenings huddled around the fireplace in the empty living room trying to stay warm. The cold was shocking, having lived our entire lives in the moderate climate of Southern California.

During the day, we explored the town and countryside. I absorbed my new surroundings from behind glass. I knew Saks was going to be small, but I wasn’t prepared for just how remote it was. We drove through abbreviated pockets of civilization scattered far and wide, separated by hills and long stretches of thick forests. Trees, trees, trees… as far as the eye could see. There were so many trees, they formed canopies over the roads. When the woods gave way to farmland, we traveled through wide-open fields littered with bales of hay, tractors and dilapidated barns overwhelmed by vines. Along the highway were rows of mailboxes far from any visible house. Even though it seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere, we passed BBQ joints and other roadside establishments that sold everything from mufflers to hairdos to religion. In Alabama, the churches resembled warehouses, with signs that announced denominations I’d never even heard of: Assembly of God, Church of God, Church of Christ, New Home Missionary, Open Door Fellowship, First Congressional Methodist, Pentecostal Assembly Covenant Life Ministries… I’d never seen so many crosses in my life.

There were almost as many crosses as there were trees.

And white people.

Everywhere we looked, in the other cars on the road, in stores and at restaurants, there were more white people than I’d seven seen in one place besides TV. Alabama was a two-tone world of back and white. No Mexican. No Chinese. No Filipinos. No Koreans. Just white people and black people. But what was even more astounding was how excruciatingly friendly they all were. Although we were strangers in these parts, when we entered an establishment, we were greeted with the sing-song drawl of a welcome: “How y’all doing?” Everybody sounded like extras from the TV show Hee-Haw. Not that our accents didn’t stand out as well. All we had to do was open our mouths and we’d get, “Y’all not from around here, are you?”

No siree.

The main part of town, which was only slightly more congested than the countryside, was a four-lane highway lined with shopping centers and fast food restaurants. After noticing the lack of foot traffic, I figured out why: there were no pedestrians because there were no sidewalks to walk on. Just ditches on either side of the road. This was a huge disappointment. How was I supposed to get anywhere? Back in Rosemead, our former stomping grounds were so ingrained in my memory, I could move through the streets and alleyways in my imagination without ever getting lost. I could count the number of houses on our street and name each occupant. The Baudrey Boys wandered far and wide. The day we realized we could go past the four block radius of the folks bailiwick and we wouldn’t fall off the face of the earth, we never looked back. We explored the depths of my neighborhood on foot and on bike. And if a destination was further than we could manage by tread of shoe of tire, there was always the RTD.

In Alabama, there were no buses on the road. Just big rigs among the pick-up trucks that outnumbered cars twofold.

Even the dirt was different. All my life I’d thought the universal color of dirt was brown. But in Alabama, the ground was red.

Our new home.

The differences were both intriguing and frightening.

–from A Masque of Infamy


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Another State of Mind

Saks, Alabama, was an electromagnetic wasteland, too remote to pick up a signal on the TV without cable. For the first time, I had access to MTV as well as shows like Night Flight and USA Up All Night. On weekend nights, I scoured the dial for videos, weird movies or anything with a little T&A. I was flipping through the channels late one Friday when I stumbled on a show with punks sporting mohawks and studded leather jackets.

I watched transfixed as the story unfolded. It was some kind of documentary about two punk bands from LA touring across the US and Canada in a school bus covered with anarchic graffiti. At each stop, they played shows in dingy clubs and warehouses, featured in the concert footage with a detailed demonstration on the techniques of slam dancing. There were interviews with kids all across the country. Kids with spiked hair, buzz cuts, mohawks, pierced noses and tons of make-up discussed their local scenes and what it was like to be a punk when the world around them refused to accept their music, their style and their way of life.

The movie covered all kinds of punks, from the drunk rowdy types to the straight edge movement in DC. There were even Christian punks. While they were in Canada, the bands stayed at a place called the Calgary Manor, where a bunch of punks lived together. They talked about running away from abusive parents and broken homes to form their own community centered around punk rock. In the backyard was a half-pipe. Bands played in the living room. They made meals and ate together, like one giant family. A family of outcasts.

This was the life for me, I thought, immediately overcome with the realization that something else existed out there. A punk rock life was everything I ever wanted: freedom, chaos, style, and an aggressive soundtrack. My new purpose in life was to find tapes by the bands Social Distortion, Youth Brigade and Minor Threat.

Inspired my the movie, I amped up my freak style and began to modify my wardrobe. With a marker, I drew an anarchy symbol on a ripped piece of t-shirt. Underneath that, I wrote “F.T.W.” and safety-pinned it to the back of my jean jacket. I drew crazy designs on my arms with a black PaperMate. I painted my fingernails black. I died my hair green with food coloring. I pierced my right ear a second time and inserted a long teardrop pearl earring.

As my transformation continued, I started getting dirty looks in the hallways of Saks High. People averted their eyes. I heard snide comments behind my back.

I was loving every minute of it.


–From A Masque of Infamy

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The Cult of Teddy Ruxpin

Cades Cove Methodist Church

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)

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My ax wasn’t much, a black imitation strat the old man bought me from Toys-R-Us. It originally came with a speaker built into the body, but I removed it, covered the hole with electrical tape and plugged into a Kalamazoo amp. I made a royal racket. Except that’s all I could do, since I didn’t know how to make chords or even tune the damn thing. I just positioned my fingers on the fretboard based on pictures in rock mags and went to town.

I was supposed to take guitar lessons when I was around ten. My mother even let me use an old acoustic from her beatnik days. But on the day of my first lesson, when we got to the place where the classes were to be held, they told us the building had burned down the day before.

Disappointed, I told my next door neighbor, a guy slightly older than me who played the guitar pretty good. He offered to give me lessons. Except, instead of teaching me the chords to “Iron Man” like I wanted, he made me watch him jerk off and then gave me the change in his brother’s dresser. Even though I made out with a buck fifty, which was a nice chunk of change, I never went back there for another lesson.

After that, I fiddled around with my mom’s acoustic until she got pissed off at me one day and broke it over my head.

I never stopped dreaming about being in a band and being a rock star though. But I didn’t really see myself as a lead guitar player or a singer. I wanted to be more like Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitar player for AC/DC, who stayed in the background, doing his thing, while Angus got all the attention.

— from A Masque of Infamy

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The Nasty Oh-Dear (with apologies to Richard Pryor)

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


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From the Alhambra Wash to Marrano Beach

When we weren’t embroiled in an epic game of Ditch ‘Em, we’d ride our BMX bikes to San Gabriel High and climb the roofs. In the empty dirt lots around town, we’d carve out off-road courses with abandoned shopping carts and practice jumps. We’d scale the fence that barricaded the Wash and ride through the concrete channels to Marrano Beach, where we’d play Rambo in the scum-laden, swampy water. And since there usually weren’t enough BB guns to go around, one of us would have to be the human prey while the others took pot shots from the trees along the bank.

— from A Masque of Infamy


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