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Book details
  • SubGenre:Coming of Age
  • Age Range (years):13 and up
  • Language:English
  • Pages:372
  • eBook ISBN:9798350933079
  • Paperback ISBN:9798350933062

The Cusser Club

A Tawdry, Titillating Texas Tale

by Randall Northcutt

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Kirkus Review (Starred)This gritty coming-of-age tale novel revolves around three teenage friends and a dangerous adventure that changes them all. Set in the spring of 1969, Northcutt's story primarily focuses on 15-year-old Teddy Nutscalder, who lives in Dix Knob: "an East Texas cesspool that God forgot." Living with an abusive, alcoholic father and the memory of a wayward mother who simply up and left seven years earlier when his twin sister died, Nutscalder's life isn't exactly idyllic—especially considering that town bully Galton Grails has it out for him. His best friends, Mickey O'Dell, a "pint-sized Hercules," and Tommy Crum, whose penis is the size of a "Czechoslovakian summer sausage," share Nutscalder's disdain for the town and dream of getting out someday. But when they talk a pretty "high society" girl from jumping to her death off of a bridge, they become entangled in her sad story, which includes a sexually abusive stepfather, a mentally unstable mother, and a dangerous conspiracy where more than a few people may have already been murdered. While the cast is brilliantly portrayed and the storyline has some truly impressive plot twists, it's Northcutt's clear, confident voice and his ability to immerse the reader in 1969 culture that makes this novel so readable. The prose and imagery, while not always politically correct, fit the story perfectly: "She had a figure like Marilyn Monroe with an hourglass waist and tits like a couple of 1957 Cadillac bumper bullets." But ultimately, it's the thematic exploration into the power of friendship and the significance of (trying to) do the right thing that makes this so unputdownable. Readers who enjoyed Stephen King's novella "The Body" will love this novel. Radiates an immersive, dark, and nostalgic vibe. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/randall-northcutt/the-cusser-club/
During an annual treasure festival in the Sabine River town of Dix Knob, Texas, Teddy Nutscalder and his friends Mickey O'Dell and Tommy Crum scheme to help Missy, a beautiful high society girl, escape the lascivious advances of her criminal stepfather. The outliers face constant struggle in a declining quarry town with no prospects. Not only must Teddy deal with an abusive father and the haunting memory of his dead twin sister, he is incessantly stalked by the town bully. Mickey struggles to support his family after his father is imprisoned and is embarrassed by the fact his 17-year-old sister Brandy earns most of the family's income by dancing at a topless bar. Tommy is going blind and is desperate for a new treatment his family cannot afford. The boys first encounter Missy on a train trestle, contemplating suicide. She attends private Catholic school and has nothing in common with them. Teddy manages to talk her down and although initially rebuffed, he falls for Missy and is torn between her and his quasi-girlfriend, a sweet but dimwitted schoolmate. While earning a few dollars cleaning up Rick Blaine's Casablanca bar, the boys accidentally discover a hidden entrance into an adjacent condemned fraternity hall known informally as the Cusser Club. After breaching the heavily fortified building, they discover hidden passages used during prohibition and blithely lay claim to the long-abandoned property, unaware of the consequences later on. All the while, metal detectorists from all over the country search for the lost 'Treasure 'O the Knob,' a hoard of rare gold coins that disappeared in a shootout between police and bandits during Hurricane Audrey a decade earlier. The community is electrified when several coins are uncovered, but festivity gives way to grief after Mickey is seriously wounded when he steps between Brandy and a gun wielding stalker. Teddy's father beats him severely and the town bully humiliates him during a romantic interlude with Missy. Resolving to overcome his timidity and cowardice, Teddy stands up to his father and sets a trap to wreck the bully as he rides a motorcycle through an abandoned sandstone quarry. Teddy's trap is only the beginning of the gang's problems: treasure-hunting, murder, mafia violence, and a sabotaged political campaign force the boys grow up faster than planned.
About the author
Randall is a sixth generation Texan, small town doctor, and an avid student of Texas legend and lore. He is a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Freemason and Past Grand Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias. Life among rednecks, boondock angels, and outlaws provides endless fodder for humor and satire in his writing.

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