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The Rising Tide of Britney
The Spears courtroom event sets the stage for new novel “Free Marcus Katz!!!”
Britney Spears victory changed how people regard legal conservatorship and the fallout reaches unlikely places. For a serious author with a breezy new epistolary novel centered on the serious issue of conservatorship, it is perfect timing. “Free Marcus Katz!!!- A Curated Collection of Yelp Reviews”, (available February 1 from John Hunt Publishing) is about a young man with Asperger’s syndrome who becomes trapped in an unfair 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.”
Chesley said, “As a neurotypical author writing about someone on the spectrum I wanted to know early on how the autism community would see the book so I shared pre-publication drafts with experts both on and off the spectrum. I got suggestions but mostly I got thanks for telling this story. I was just knocked out to receive praise and approbation from revered advocate and author Temple Grandin, autistic herself, who wrote, ‘It opened my eyes to use of the legal system to abuse individuals who are fully capable of making their own decisions.’”
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 also uninhibitedly talks about his life while reviewing local restaurants and businesses. When his doting mother dies, a rapacious 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.
Howard Marc Chesley is 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 court-ordered conservatorship. “Free Marcus Katz!!!” is listed for preorder now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Review copies sent to the press on request.