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The Britney Spears courtroom drama was serendipitous for new novel “Free Marcus Katz!!!”
Britney Spears’ recent victory in her long battle to shed her father’s guardianship has thrust the issue of conservatorships into the public eye. A breezy new novel by Booker Prize-nominated author Howard Marc Chesley arrives just in time to capture the interest of those who are newly educated—and newly outraged—about abuses that occur within the U.S. conservatorship system.
“Free Marcus Katz!!!- A Curated Collection of Yelp Reviews” is about a young man with Asperger’s syndrome who becomes trapped in an unnecessary and rapacious court-ordered conservatorship. “I finished writing it before Britney was on anyone’s radar including my own,” said Booker Prize-nominated author Howard Marc Chesley of his second novel, “At the time I was concerned that readers might not be in touch with the subject. When the Britney drama exploded the publisher moved up my publication date.” “Free Marcus Katz!!!” will be available February 1 from John Hunt Publishing.
According to Linda Kincaid of the conservatorship watch group Coalition for Elder and Disability Rights (CEDAR), “We have been fighting against abusive conservatorships for years, but the Britney Spears case has suddenly altered the whole landscape of the movement.”
The inspiration for “Free Marcus Katz!!!” was born when Mr. Chesley read Rachel Aviv’s angry 2017 New Yorker article detailing how an elderly Las Vegas couple were locked away and swindled by a court-appointed public guardian. Mr. Chesley came back to it a few years later and placed a forced conservatorship into the life of his sweet twenty-two year old hero with Asperger’s, Marcus Katz. Marcus lives pleasantly in an apartment over his mom’s garage in Santa Monica, California and delights in writing Yelp reviews in which he uninhibitedly chats about his life while reviewing local restaurants and businesses. When his doting mother dies, a court-appointed conservator warehouses him in a dismal group home. Distraught, he runs away, pursued by his conservator, on an ill-advised road trip, spurred on by hazy plans to meet up with a woman, also on the spectrum, that he met online who lives in a commune in Oregon. The outcome turns out to be life-changing for Marcus.
Temple Grandin, revered author and advocate for those with autism said of “Free Marcus Katz!!!,” “It opened my eyes to the use of the legal system to abuse individuals who are fully capable of making their own decisions.”
Howard Marc Chesley is an author and a graduate of the Johns Hopkins writing seminars. He has worked as a writer of film and television and his first novel, “Some Books Aren’t for Reading,” was nominated for a 2019 Booker prize. He is available for interviews and can be queried for writing on the subject of public conservatorships. “Free Marcus Katz!!!” is available for preorder now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Review copies can be sent to the press on request.