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THE BEDWETTER by Lee Allen  Howard


Journal of a Budding Psychopath

by Lee Allen Howard

ISBN: 978-1-73370-090-0
Publisher: Three First Names

In Howard’s (The Adamson Family, 2017, etc.) psychological thriller, a disturbed, 20-something man struggles with twisted desires.

Russell Pisarek is an animal technician who lives with his younger sister, Becky, in Pittsburgh. He was a troubled child, predominantly due to his abusive mother, Melanie, whom he unaffectionately dubs “Melanoma.” Every time Russell wet his bed, which was frequently, Melanie would beat him and tell his father, Jody, to shave the boy’s head. His high school classmates learned about his bedwetting and consequently tormented him. Now 26, Russell has begun wetting the bed again for the first time in years. He’s worried that it may take him to a “bad place”; his past includes drugs and animal cruelty. His relationship with Becky’s son, Aiden, offers him a glimmer of hope, though, as he loves the boy wholeheartedly. But when Becky suggests that Russell move out of the town house, his problems escalate—he can’t afford to live alone and can’t find a roommate. He’s also determined to fulfill his sexual fantasy of shaving a woman’s head, and soon, he no longer cares whether the woman is a willing participant. Howard’s novel treks into bleak territory, depicting Russell’s unsettling, recurring dream of humiliating his mother as well as scenes of violence, which are few but intense. It’s primarily a solid character study as Russell regrets his past transgressions and strives to improve himself. Howard’s prose is unrefined and graphic, and its unfiltered depictions of brutality can be cringe-inducing. There are also many reminders of the narrator’s flaws, and the text includes numerous, generally inappropriate emoticons and “LOLz.” The final act is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the bloodiest, but there are also a couple of satisfying plot turns before the story ends.

A compelling tale of simmering madness that’s often harrowing.