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A Foodie’s Guide to Abusive Conservatorships
Upcoming novel “Free Marcus Katz!!!” tells its story in Yelp reviews
“Free Marcus Katz!!!–A Curated Collection of Yelp Reviews” is a breezy novel told entirely through its foodie hero’s popular reviews of local restaurants and businesses in his native Westside Los Angeles. It is Marcus’ fervent desire to someday be recognized by Yelp and awarded the coveted “Yelp Elite” status by his posting peers. Through Yelp, 22-year old Marcus, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, describes his enthusiasm for life alongside a personal story of anguish and hope.
Marcus is made the pawn in a cruel conservatorship game after his doting mother dies and leaves him a substantial inheritance. Thus the serious underpinnings of the novel emerge. When his sister, jealous of his larger share, goes to court claiming that because of his Asperger’s he is unfit to manage his money, the judge unexpectedly appoints an unscrupulous public conservator to take control of Marcus’ money and his life. The conservator immediately moves Marcus from his pleasant oceanside apartment and warehouses him in a dismal group home. Marcus’ flees with his dog, Sadie, on an ill-advised road trip chased by his conservator and chronicled in ongoing Yelp reviews.
Mr. Chesley says that his interest in conservatorship issues was raised after he read Rachel Aviv’s angry 2017 New Yorker article detailing how an elderly couple had their lives commandeered by the probate court. They were separated from family and swindled by their court-appointed public guardian. “I thought there was a strong story to be told about these abusive, scam conservatorships. Nobody knew anything about Britney Spears at the time so it seemed like new territory.”
Mr. Chesley, a “Yelp junkie” (his own description) admits to dragging friends and family to offbeat hole-in-the wall restaurants in the far corners of Los Angeles that he finds on Yelp and often posts yea or nay after. “I had been back-burnering a novel told entirely in Yelp reviews, perhaps by a hero on the autism spectrum. It all fell together when I tied it to my interest in conservatorships. This wouldn’t be the first time I combined two ideas in a writing project.”
Howard Marc Chesley is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins writing seminars. He has worked as a writer of film and television. “Free Marcus Katz!!!” is author Howard Marc Chesley’s second novel. His first, “Some Books Aren’t for Reading,” was nominated for a 2019 Booker prize. “Free Marcus Katz!!!” is listed for preorder now for February 1 purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Review copies can be sent to the press on request. Mr. Chesley is available for interviews and can be queried for writing on the subject of court-ordered conservatorships, Yelp and autism.