David Henry Sterry

Author, book doctor, raker of muck

David Henry Sterry

Tag: novella

Moret Morte: “Sophocles with Hints of A.A.Milne, Lewis Carrol, and the brothers Grimm”

To buy Mort Morte click here.

mort morte coverx3000w“Mordechai Murgatroyd Morte takes very good care of his mother with any weapon at hand through the thickets of her murky life. Explosive prose threaded through with a loan from Sophocles and hints of A.A.Milne, Lewis Carrol, and the brothers Grimm, is smoothed with many, many cups of tea. Black comedy, indeed!” …Jean D. Harlan

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Mort Morte: “One Wild Ride…Hilarious”

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mort morte coverx3000w“It’s fall now and the season for amusement parks may have drawn to a close but if you’re looking for one wild ride, you could do a lot worse than pick up Mort Morte by David Henry Sterry. By turns absurd, hilarious and tragic, this fairly quick read tells the story of Mordechai Murgatroyd Morte, a young man who follows his mother through her unfortunate marriages to several physically and sexually abusive men.

The novel begins with these lines: “On my third birthday, my father, in an attempt to get me to stop sucking my thumb, gave me a gun. ‘Today, son, you are a man,’ he said, snatching the little, blue binky from my little, pink hand. So I shot him.”

Although the abusive element is merely hinted at in the character of Mort’s father here (who gives his three-year-old son a gun?), the farcical quality is immediately apparent and sets the tone for Mort’s experiences with his mother’s future and more clearly terrible husbands. As she moves from conjugal attachment with one man and then another, Mort ultimately finds new ways of ridding himself and his mother of their nonsense by acts of gruesome murder.

As Mort advances into his teenage years and moves to Rome, Texas so that his mother may tie the knot with Billy Bob Bobby Joe Willy Dick Bodine (BB, for short), the first hint of Mort’s own intense sexuality emerges in a lusty relationship with Muffy Thunderbuck, his school’s goddess of beauty and sensuality. “In out, in out,” Sterry writes in multiple consecutive paragraphs, representing the relationship in absurdly physical terms, which reflects equally on the emotional hollowness of the men brought into his life by his poor “milky” British mother.

Cleverly, however, into the apparent hollowness of the prose one can read some of the most serious of childhood traumas–vulnerability, helplessness at the hands of abusive adults and the kind of resilient self-reliance that is the sanctuary for young men lacking the benefits of a stable household. Both socially awkward and intellectually brilliant (the latter quality of which captured Muffy’s heart, or did it capture her legs?), Mort becomes the dreaded agent of his mother’s constant widowhood and also her savior as he rids her time and again of negligent, angry men.

The novel seems to reflect the story of a sensitive young man and his mother struggling to survive in a tough, unforgiving world. The final irony of the story, however, occurs after Mort, having blown up his mother’s latest beau, Bartholomew Dinsdale Dinkleberry, with a vial of nitroglycerine, finds that he and his mother will be kicked out of Rome. Following a self-pitying visit to Muffy Thunderbuck for some physical “comfort”, Mort returns home to find his mother has slipped out of town, stating in a note she has left behind that she has moved ahead and will “find a good boarding school for bright young people who don’t quite fit in, which we all know you are, pet, and you will join us later. Everything will be fine, most likely.”

Only, Mort knows nothing will be fine. His mother, he realizes in an instant, is in many ways the cause herself of so much grief and self-destruction in submitting to the abusive routines of so many bad men. Whereas Mort always believed in his goal to protect, he now–at the moment of maternal abandonment–realizes it was her destructive personality which, aside from earning her a great future through the wealth of one now-dead husband, has callously prompted her to leave behind an awkward son.

The monumental irony then is upon the discovery of abandonment. If children are often seen as wild uncontrollable creatures, their adult counterparts fare far worse in this writer’s treatment. Mort Morte is the engaging and unusual story of a young man who finds the one person to whom he is most devoted to be the primary agent of his worst suffering.” – Joe Kovacs

Review of Mort Morte: Dexter, South Park, Aesop, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Meets Travis Bickle

“Like Dexter visiting South Park, like Aesop  mixed with the Simpsons, like Diary of a Wimpy Kill as told by Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, Mort Morte is a brilliant, sad, deep, LOL book”

mort morte coverx3000wHoly mother of murder, Mort Morte! I’m thinking that David Henry Sterry ate Aesop for breakfast one day and burped this book out later that afternoon; there has to be a lesson in here somewhere, but I’m still stunned speechless so I can’t quite articulate it. I think it has something to do with the medicinal qualities of tea …

Mort Morte is the story of a boy who loves his mother, and who knows evil when he sees it. Mort Morte is a boy who is ready to right wrongs, unfortunately in all the wrong ways. Mort Morte is a troubled child. Then he commits murder. Not once, not twice, read the book to find out how many times. Mort Morte’s mother is a troubled woman. She keeps marrying the wrong man. Not once, not twice, read the book to find out how many times.

Seriously, MORT MORTE is a brilliant satire, a sad commentary on the dark side of life, and a hysterically disturbing story. I can’t say it’s my kind of humor, but the book is original, fast paced, and captivating. Despite all the aforementioned murder, I had to keep turning the pages to see what would happen next. And that is the sign of a great story.

To buy the book click here.

Mort Morte


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Discuss the Book

My new book Mort Morte with beautiful pictures by Alain Pilon. On my third birthday, my father, in an attempt to get me to stop sucking my thumb, gave me a gun. “Today son, you are a man,” he said, snatching the little blue binky from my little pink hand. So I shot him.So begins MORT MORTE a macabre coming-of-age story full of butchered butchers, badly used Boy Scouts, blown-up Englishman, virginity-plucking cheerleaders, and many nice cups of tea.Poignantly poetic, hypnotically hysterical, sweetly surreal, and chock full of the blackest comedy, MORT MORTE is like Lewis Carrol having brunch with the kid from The Tin Drum and Oedipus, just before he plucks his eyes out. Or Diary of a Wimpy Kid as told by Travis Bickle from Taxi DriverIn the end though, MORT MORTE is a story about a boy who really loves his mother.Here’s the story of how writing this book led me to the love of my life, my first piece on Salon.

A new review:

“Who do you think of when someone says black humor? Johnathan Swift? Joseph Heller? Kurt Vonnegut? Perhaps Roald Dahl?

Well, add David Sterry to your list. His newest book, Mort Morte is as black as sin and twice as fun. It all starts innocently enough. Our three-year-old protagonist, vengeful over his father’s depriving him of his binky, seeks revenge by shooting dear-old-dad with the very gun he had given Mort as a birthday present. Be forewarned, though. After that, things take a violent turn. This pithy little book with its delightfully cheeky artwork escorts us through murder after murder, each more hilariously executed than the last, before our hero is figuratively ridden out of town on a Texas-sized rail. Where does Mort go from there? Surely, you jest! Where else but Harvard? Buy a ticket on this one. You’ll enjoy the ride.”

mort morte the-mother picmort morte the bull picsketch-chapter-2(1)


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