The Bedwetter Review: Razor Sharp Psychotic Fantasies
The Bedwetter: Journal of a Budding Psychopath is a twisted little psychological horror novel that tackles the bizarre and ugly fantasies of Russell Pisarek, the titular budding psychopath. Written by Lee Allen Howard, The Bedwetter is the latest novel from the author whose bibliography includes numerous other dark fiction pieces and anthology entries that clearly set him up as a man who loves horror.
Russell Pisarek has a shameful ‘pissue’, he’s 26 years old and he still wets the bed. His childhood consisted of trauma and abuse, mostly perpetrated by his own mother who would shave his head as punishment for his accidents. This, combined with the cruelty of teenagers, shapes the formative years of Russell. He begins as many burgeoning psychopaths do, killing small animals, which he proudly presents through his Frankenstein kitty quilt made of cat skin.
Ticking another box on the ‘I’m a psychopath’ checklist, Russell suffers a ‘stresser’ when his sister kicks him out. Now his psychopathic tendencies have been triggered and his recurring dreams about the Piss Fairy come back with a vengeance. He needs to fulfil his darkest desires, and take himself to the next stage, by finding a girl he can shave…and maybe more.
This is a different type of horror novel; it’s not a tense, suspenseful entry. It is the twisted prose of an angry disillusioned young man who tells his personal tales, fantasies and desires in an amusing yet dark journal. The use of first person journal entries is interesting and still quite unique to the genre. Does he quite live up to the bubbling psychosis of American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman or feel the unrelenting urge to kill like Darkly Dreaming Dexter’s Dexter Morgan? No, unfortunately not, but he’s still a nasty, narcissistic lead who may have some humanity buried in there somewhere but also has some very twisted urges and fucked up triggers.
The Bedwetter starts strong with an opening visual bound to stick with the reader long after you’ve put the book down. However, after that the lead up does become a little tedious. There seems to be such a focus on humanising Russell that it takes a while to get to the psychopathic tendencies. Perhaps my expectations of books that explore less than savoury characters have been set a little bit high by authors such Chuck Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis. This may be why I found Russell to be slightly wanting in the unsettling department. Once the third act hits it picks up a very nasty streak with some brutal and visceral violence and an ending promise of more to come from our promising psycho.
This is my first exposure to the works of Lee Allen Howard and it has intrigued me enough to add a few of his other works to my Wish List. The diary entry format allows for a personal exploration of the internal thoughts of a unbalanced killer. Unfortunately this does lead to a few awkward writing moments such as the overuse of ‘LOLz’ and some poorly placed emoticons that did make me cringe slightly. That aside The Bedwetter is an interesting and sordid little horror book that spirals into one hell of an ending.
I leave you with one final warning; The Bedwetter is definitely not for those who are easily offended or grossed out.