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Kenneth J Kirsch

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Demon Alcohol and the Monstermen
by Kenneth J Kirsch   

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Literary Fiction

Publisher:  PublishAmerica ISBN-10:  1606720759


Copyright:  August 11, 2008 ISBN-13:  9781606720752

Demon Alcohol and the Monstermen is a cautionary tale of the impact of alcoholism on children, and the decisions all children of alcoholics must face when they become adults: to either continue the destructive path, or opt for hope and recovery.

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Demon Alcohol and the Monstermen is the story of one little girl’s struggles to overcome generations of alcoholism.

Leysa Henko immigrates to America from Russia with her family in 1917, with all the optimism of a four-year-old.
Leysa’s world begins to crumble when her abusive alcoholic father, Devak, opens a pub in Tallenook, Pennsylvania, during Prohibition.
When her adoring mother Ionna dies of tuberculosis, Leysa and her older sister Maryska are left at the mercy of Devak and his abusive bar cronies—the Monstermen.
Devak presses them into service to save his tavern by delivering vodka door-to-door—alone—to Tallenook’s horrific alcoholic “shut-ins.”

The spirits of family members passed on reach out to help Leysa.
As Leysa grows older and more bitter, she loses touch and her life spirals out of control.

Will Leysa find the peace she so desperately needs before alcoholism claims another generation of Henkos?

Leysa Henko’s struggles, and those of the characters in this book, are loosely based on people I’ve met throughout my life in the better – and worse – parts of this state.
Demon Alcohol and the Monstermen is the story of just one Pennsylvania family’s struggles, but the scenes in this morality play may well play out in thousands of households in some of the more despair-ridden corners of the state, if not across the United States.

I wanted to turn the tables on alcoholism as a disease and focus on the other victims, the real victims.
Groups such as Al-Anon and Alateen do such a tremendous job helping those victimized by alcoholism to live fulfilling lives and find peace that I decided to write a novel that focused on their struggles, on their daily triumphs and tragedies.
I hope this book helps those people who are impacted by this disease find a little peace in their lives.

Demon Alcohol And The Monstermen is available at Barnes&Noble and




Here's a brief excerpt from Demon Alcohol and the Monstermen:
Chapter 6: Baptism by Fire(water).

There is a special place and time (an event one might call it) that alcoholics go to Ė those who drink alone, and most of them do at one point or another, sometimes for years at a time, despite their insistence to the contrary Ė called, for lack of a better term, ďThe Drunkís Dark.Ē

The Drunkís Dark is where the solo drinking Ė the real damage drunks inflict on themselves Ė happens. Itís usually done in either the living room or bedroom of oneís apartment or house; sometimes the kitchen for the hardcore drunks who like to deny themselves even the comfort of a padded sofa during these periods of queerly pious self-abuse and loathing. The time is usually around 1 to 3 a.m.

The Alone Hours, you might call them, occur after the lighted, pretty, social part of the drinking is done at the neighborhood tavern, or Elks Lodge, or dinner party Ė the kind you see in all those wonderful beer and liquor commercials with the beautiful people in their perfect clothes and their perfect teeth feeling perfectly content with their perfect drinks. Yes, friends and neighbors, after the back-slapping comes the back-stabbing. Nothing celebratory, or beautiful, or perfect, about it. This is where the drunk comes to do their penance, pay their fines, and rot away in their mental jail cells.

Itís also where the drunk goes to ponder their condition, their lot in life, and recount who is responsible and why, and, goddammit, how they would exact their revenge if only they could. If only this bastard wasnít holding them back, or if that job had turned out differently and the stupid bosses would have made them supervisor instead of that other suck-up. The drunk rarely cries during these episodes because, after all, itís all someone elseís fault, isnít it? And thatís not something to cry about. Itís something to get pissed off about Ė to drink over.

The hour is quiet and the house is quiet. No TV, no phone, no radio. Just a drunk and their booze. There is no sound whatsoever, save for the dull landing of the hand on the metallic bottle lid, the tearing and simultaneous unscrewing sound as the metal lid scrapes against the threaded top of the bottle. Unscrewing that lid slowly, the initial resistance, then giving way, and spinning it on the tabletop is the triumph of control that every alcoholic craves. To a drunk, itís that goood. The feeling of unfettered and guilt-free victory, the full-body tingle of discovery. The anticipation of release, of liberty, letting go of the questions without answers, letting go of the caring.

The light clank of the bottle as it brushes against, and then settles, on top of the glass for balance before the tip. The drunker they get, the louder that clang as the bottle struggles to find pay dirt on the top of the glass. Itís not uncommon for the drunk to find chips of glass on the kitchen table, or on the floor, where itís discovered the next morning and accompanied by a hung-over pronouncement of ďOh, shit-damn-fuck. Goddamn glass on the goddamn floor! What the fuck?!Ē

Some drunks, when theyíre really wasted, will use the threads on the top of the bottle as balance on the side of the glass. Call it an insurance policy, a failsafe, just in case the damn thing slips.

Then, another slight clink as the top of the bottle penetrates the glass for the pour. Followed by a muted glug-glug sound as the booze finds its way into the glass at last. At this point, the drunk feels their only joy in the process; they might smile even as they think: ďYes, thatís it baby, there ya go. This is victory, a victory for me. Look what Iíve created, world. Iím in control. Iím pouring my own drink in my own house, that I bought/rent with my own money, and itís me doing it, you fuckers, itís me. Iím in control here. Iím the boss of this one-person-booze-show. Me. No one else but me.Ē

The power is in the penetration as well; donít let anyone tell you differently. Even drunks themselves are at a loss to understand, or even recognize, the sexual overtones of The Drunkís Dark. Men are always the bottle, women are always the glass.

Then, the drinking. Followed by the loathing, the sorrow, and the utter aloneness of it all, the wretched rejection of life.

This is where Leysa Henko, a tired, skinny woman 57 years old with eyelids so puffy they seemed to be holding the woes of the world inside two leathered, worn and world-weary bags, found herself the evening after Joshua, Claire and Hope visited for that dreaded lunch. A manhattan sat in front of her in a glass, a triple-strength, non-judgmental friend accompanying her into the wee hours of the night, like it had so faithfully done so many times before. A Pearl filtered cigarette sat in the between the crystal sharksí teeth of a thick glass ashtray; smoke trailed from it in a solitary chimney Ė rising in three straight chimneys at first, then swirling into a kind of weak nicotine funnel as it neared the ceiling.

Professional Reviews

Craaack! A homerun from new author Ken Kirsch
I discovered a nice surprise once I sat back and started to turn the pages of this book from new author Ken Kirsch. Mr. Kirsch does a fantastic job of drawing the reader into the story and making you feel as if you are actually in the room with the characters. His character descriptions are superb, clearly depicting the physical, mental and emotional traits of the major players in the story. His historical perspective really held my interest as I'm a native of Pennsylvania and I could relate to many of the small towns and cultural peculiarities he references. All in all this book was a truly pleasant surprise and one that I found difficult to put down. It's the perfect book for a cool Fall evening. I highly recommend this book and look forward to the next book from Mr. Kirsch.

A tense, spooky, but loving tale of Prohibition-Era alcoholism and modern day recovery
Kenneth James Kirsch has penned a winner with this debut novel. The characters are very skillfully drawn, and you feel an instant connection with and sympathy for the main character and victim, Leysa Henko. Leysa Henko immigrates from Russia to America in 1917 with her older sister, Maryska, father Devak, and mother Ionna. Devak, an abusive alcohlic, opens a tavern in the hard-drinking town of Tallenook, Pennsylvania. Ionna is an angelic mother who teaches her daughters independence and how to be headstrong in a time of turmoil for women fighting for suffrage in the U.S. When Prohibition threatens the family tavern, and Ionna is weakened by tuberculosis, Devak presses his daughters into service delivering vodka door to door to Tallenook's horrific alcoholic shut-ins -- the Monstermen. The book follows Leysa's descent from bubbly blond immigrant to embittered alcoholic adult. As a child, Leysa is visited by and supported by ancestors who've passed on. But as her view of the world turns dark, she can no longer tune into the help of her spirit friends and she is left to fend for herself. This is a true page-turner that will have you looking over your shoulder and around corners -- and leave you with a lump in your throat. Highly recommended.

Inspirational and Compelling
The book "Demon Alcohol and the Monstermen" is a highly readable and riveting story.

As someone whose family grew up in the coal regions of Pennsylvania, I was really struck by both the message behind "...Monstermen", by the poetry that Mr Kirsch produces (see p 16) when describing various phenomena and events in the story, and by his realistic characters (particularly Leysa and Devak, Leysa's father). It truly was hard to put this book down.

The book is highly memorable, not just because of the main character's "rude awakening", but because of its uplifting message. Lots of folks who come from challenging family situations (like me) constantly struggle with whether to continue bad habits and behaviors that they learned growing up, or to do what they know is right and good. The latter means doing truly hard work to overcome one's "programming" as a kid. Leysa, the book's main character, is certainly inspirational in this regard.

In summary, "...Monstermen" is definitely worth reading; Ken Kirsch has penned a winner!

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