Everyone’s Pretty follows three days in the life of Dean Decetes, freeloader, pornographer, alcoholic, and would-be messiah. As Dean begs, borrows, steals, and drinks himself into a stupor, he finds himself beaten senseless by strangers he’s insulted and enlists a dwarf ex-con named Ken to be his sidekick in a campaign to make himself famous. Meanwhile the pious spinster sister he lives off pines for her boss, to whom she writes passionate love letters — while her co-workers, an obsessive-compulsive Christian Scientist and a promiscuous, depressed blond bombshell, become unwitting players in her scheme to dump Dean and ride off on a white horse with the man she loves.
Praise and Reviews
“With a sharp eye for small details, a keen sense of the absurd and strong empathy for its creations, Everyone’s Pretty is both prism and truth.”
–Sarah Weinman, Washington Post Book World
“A kaleidoscopic new satire of America’s quietly freakish office workers … gives voice to a wide variety of life’s unbeautiful losers — and makes them sing for us.”
“Beating through the pages of this strange little book is a lonely heart searching for intimacy in a crazy world.”
“Juggling an enormous cast of psychos, Everyone’s Pretty revels in its own religious chaos, the sexually crazed repeatedly clashing with the sexually pure … The book impressively teeters on the edge of total inanity, each scene becoming increasingly uncomfortable, then unraveling out of control.”
Chapter the First
Introducing a Prince among men, a Holy Woman, and a sheep
Fat men were often powerful, that was true. Their girth did not appear unseemly, flanked by the pillars and arches of state. Thin men, however, were the revolutionaries and the seers. Che Guevara had not been a corpulent man, nor had Mahatma Gandhi. Also, the thin ones lived longer. Emaciation and longevity went hand in hand. For this reason Decetes had, from time to time, considered a regimen of starvation, but he was always too hungry. — Now I will starve, he would say, and his resolve would carry him from one day to the next. Then there would be his stomach, an abandoned child. He took pity on it.
Still, he knew the pride of self-restraint. A thin man was a lone wolf on the prowl.
Decetes applied himself to reading the graffiti on the toilet stall. He was an amateur archaeologist — or perhaps, since he rarely dug holes in the ground, merely an anthropologist. For he often studied mankind. Yes, he devoted himself to their study, so he could better know them.
Know thine enemy, it was said.
I fucked yer sister, read one line. In another script beneath this, Go home Dad your drunk.
Decetes admired the homespun candor. It was here, above the rust-washed urinals, across the slate-gray metal doors of public bodily relief, that the psyche of the underclass found unfettered expression. The underclass was canny and astute. Decetes lauded their efforts.
He was hiding out in the restroom after a minor altercation with another bar patron, who had threatened him with injury. —Len, pour me another one, he had said. That was all. A not unreasonable request. —You’ve had enough, said Len. Len was not the garrulous, hearty bartender glorified by urban folklore. Len kept himself to himself. At times his surly furtiveness was irritating. Decetes had acquired the habit of poking at Len with the stick of his banter, trying to nudge him out of his hole.
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