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This darkly offbeat novel opens with the narrator, Wallace Black, as the target of the school bully's violence. After suffering a horrendous beating, Black goes home to his equally abusive family. As a punishment for fighting at school, his mother straps a set of grotesque horns to the top of his head. He is unsure of where the horns came from. They have always been in the house. And they contain a power no one could have expected. Let Andersen Prunty (ZEROSTRATA, MORNING IS DEAD, and THE BEARD) guide you through a sometimes hilarious, sometimes violent and terrifying coming-of-age Midwestern gothic novel.
I imagined things about everybody. It was like I lived this whole other world in my head, where the people I hated were truly despicable people. It depended on the person, I guess, and sometimes these things were quite mundane. That girl had a brother who was dying and she thought it was funny. That kid had sex with his mother. This other kid was a ravenous drug addict. This girl’s parents sold her into white slavery and on the weekends she had to have sex with people of exotic origins,
easy chore to read every time since it was well over 500 pages. That was one of the reasons I bought it. The drugstore had other things by Holger Blackwell, but The Jackthief was the longest and it made me feel like I was getting my money’s worth. The mother had rolled her eyes and said it was a sick piece of trash, but she thought it was good for me to read. The first time I read the book I was about twelve and I read it just for fun. It made me feel really smart to read a book that thick.
feeling like maybe somebody was looking for me. Like the school or the police or something. It was ridiculous, of course. The parents rarely left the house so they didn’t really have anywhere to be missing from and I knew the school would probably rather not have me there. I knew for a fact, when I was absent, Pearlbottom never reported it. My mind started playing tricks on me again. I didn’t know why it wouldn’t just leave me the fuck alone. I began to think maybe the parents weren’t
fucking relatives. Both of us were up off our seats, putting some weight into the thrusts and taking some of the strain off our legs. The road wound and twisted to the top of the hill. I knew this made it less steep but it seemed to draw the excursion out to a nearly epic proportion. A huge car headed straight for us before swerving and honking its horn. I realized that cars had been passing us all day. If I’d been more aware, this would have made me kind of nervous but I was too busy with
astounding, overwhelming. I would be forced to live up in the mountains somewhere. Or maybe to wander around with a pillowcase tied over my head like the fucking Elephant Man. Then I thought of the opposite. What if I were successful? A big house, a beautiful wife, smart children, and a great job. How old would that get? The people at the office would undoubtedly start calling me something like “Coat Rack” or some fuckness like that. And they would say it completely harmless like, but every