The apartment was a cavern in the basement of a huge Victorian rooming house. When the manager of the building decided to let me have it, I overheard him say to old Mrs. Sullivan, "Yeah, he belongs down there." And I did. It was a thin slice of concrete blocks making half the basement my hole, my tube, my damp cool burrow. It came with a floozy wood poster double bed, like a peon's cheap replica of Henry VIII's guest lodgings. The orange fabric couch smelled like someone's sweating ass, and there was a comfortable vinyl lounge chair in the living room, near a floor lamp with Mad Magazine plastic megaphone shades. I was a young bachelor as much as one might be ink-drawn in the same puerile mag. Anyway, that was how I saw myself, like the kind of young man who would look natural smoking a shiny new apple pipe, if it was the norm at the time, which it wasn't. I smoked Camel filters during that import year. Later on, as I grew and changed, I switched to Marlboros. Lately I've been smoking the gamy generic cigs called 'Raves.' Very hard on the throat and chest, I'm wondering if the nagging cough will ever clear up. Bronchitis, I'll bet ya.'
I grew in that cinderblock cave. It was my first time away from the town I grew up in, doesn't deserve a name, but there was some Rebecca From Sunnybrook Farm going on when I moved from jerkwater to urbanized. There was a small, prim, girlish shelf of books in the bedroom, beside the king size bed and cartoon floor lamp, and I took to reading most nights, after a nice day at the little mop job. There was a copy of Frank Conroy's "The Subject Was Roses," which featured a long preface explaining how the author grew the compulsion to write the book. There was a worthless second edition of 'Portnoy's Complaint,' a few experimental fiction works from New Directions, in that tentative composition book style cover, and some shitty potboilers by famous authors who got lazy. And then there was the subsidy published novel that changed my life. The only book I took with me when I 'closed the book' on my year in Rhode Island is titled, "Inferiostomy," by D. P. Reters. After reading it, I corresponded directly with Mr. Reters, as his home address was printed right under the date and copyright warnings. "No lawyers, pal," it read, "You plagiarize me, I pull up on the Harley and crush your head."
In the preface to 'Inferiostomy,' D.P. explains that when people read an important work of fiction, they, in the metaporical sense, grow their first short curly hairs all over again. It's not a 'rebirth,' as many Christians like to bruit, but rather a second, third and forth (et infinitum) puberty. He stoically assured his readership that once they read "Inferiostomy," they would be able to, on an emotional and spiritual plane, shave their bush and start from delta one each time they began one of Mr. Reters many self-publications. He further explained that this is not feasible with books published through Random House or Harper and Row, because they only print books made to lock people into a state of near-death adulthood. "I can't read any of that garbage without seeing this dim light at the end of the bogus cave," D had shared.
The premise of Inferiostomy is that people have to cut their dirty, hopeless negative senses of self out of their own little minds if they ever hope to have the the magnificent self-esteem they are entitled to. It begins with the antagonist, a mean, homely research scientist, designing an electronic device, to be planted in the brains of people like the one I used to be, which is why, from the git-go, the book had such a profound effect on me. Reters was way ahead of his time, as when the book first appeared, they were only doing this stuff to monkeys. "Sure,' the author had written me, on his lined pink stationery, 'it was monkeys first, people next. No fucking way I'm waiting for the creeps to get to this literary giant." They won't get to me, either.
The handsome, young protagonist, Little Brucie, takes interest, at first, in the mad scientist's research. He's been going to the library every day after he gets home from his little mop job, trying to figure out how to resolve his feelings of innadequacy, which, of course, was the very thing the antagonist was trying to capitalize on. Little Brucie found a series of articles in the Providence Eagle about the research. "What if some type of brain implant is just the ticket?" he wondered, as he paged through a stack of local weeklies. I won't ruin the whole experience for you, since you can still get a copy, reprint I should say (the author passed, after a heroic battle with lung cancer), of "Inferiostomy" through my new publishing house, Brass Plane Publications. You'll find a lot of my novels, as well, and should you see fit to do your own thinking and writing, I can help you get your opus between glossy covers for a low fixed rate.