Dirty Little Angels  

Chris Tusa


Set in the slums of New Orleans, among clusters of crack houses and abandoned buildings, Dirty Little Angels is the story of 16-year-old Hailey Trosclair. When the Trosclair family suffers a string of financial hardships and a miscarriage, Hailey finds herself looking to God to save her family. When her prayers go unanswered, Hailey puts her faith in Moses Watkins, a failed preacher and ex-con. Fascinated by Moses’ lopsided view of religion, Hailey, and her brother Cyrus, begin spending time down at an abandoned bank that Moses plans to convert into a drive-through church. Gradually, though, Moses’ twisted religious beliefs become increasingly more violent, and Hailey and Cyrus soon find themselves trapped in a world of danger and fear from which there may be no escape.

ISBN: 978-1-60489-030-3 Trade paper $15.95           Sale $8.00

ISBN:  978-1-60489-029-7 Library binding $26            Sale $13.00

160 Pages

About the Author: 

Chris Tusa was born and raised in New Orleans. He teaches in the English Department at LSU and holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Florida. His work has appeared in Connecticut Review, Texas Review, Prairie Schooner, The New Delta Review, South Dakota Review, Southeast Review, Passages North, and others.  With the help of a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, he was able to complete his first book of poetry, Haunted Bones, which was published by Louisiana Literature Press in 2006. Dirty Little Angels is his first novel.

 Excerpt from the Book:

     The baby was a white fist of flesh. Mama had placed the ultrasound photo atop her dresser in a sterling silver frame. That night, when the pain bent her over in the kitchen, I imagined that same white fist punching her insides black-and-blue.  When Daddy called from the hospital to tell us she’d lost the baby, my brother Cyrus said I shouldn’t worry. He said the baby didn’t feel any pain, that at nine weeks it wasn’t anything but a ball of meat squirming in Mama’s stomach. He said it hadn’t even sprouted arms or legs yet, that it still had a fish brain and gills growing in its neck. 

     That night, I dreamed of Mama’s flesh creaking as the doctor unstitched the trapdoor in her stomach. Her insides looked like crushed red velvet, and the baby’s skin was blue as a robin’s egg. I imagined the stitches in her stomach, tiny black mouths puckering between the folds of her belly. I remember wondering where the baby’s cries had gone, if they had stayed inside Mama’s body after the doctors stitched the trapdoor shut. 

     Nearly six months later, I was sitting in front of Ben Franklin High in my yellow flower dress, studying for my Science test, thinking about the baby again, my fingers tracing the pink gills of a fish in my Biology textbook.  As I stared at the fish, I heard the crackle of gravel and what sounded like the faint moan of a car horn. I looked over my shoulder and saw a rusted blue Hyundai with a dented fender idling in the parking lot behind me. It was my brother Cyrus.