Friday, January 09, 2009

REVIEW: Broken Bulbs

Title: Broken Bulbs
Author: Eddie Wright
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Existentialism
Price: $8.97 E-book Free
Publisher: Lulu
Point of Sale:
Reviewed By: Cheryl Anne Gardner

Now most everyone knows, I love deviant and damaged. I am also a huge fan of Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch” Dick’s “A Scanner Darkly” and Johnson’s “Jesus’ Son” … so it’s safe to say that I love the drug addled mind on exhibition – providing it’s making a satirical statement, of course. This book is no exception. And even though the writing style is not as rich and elaborate as I normally like, I am standing and applauding as I write this.

Yes, Frank is a drug addict, but the drug is actually more metaphoric in this case, more than in most other stories of this nature. This story, and again Bravo, deals with much more than the cliché numbing effect addiction is known for. Frank doesn’t become numb. He already lives in a world of fear and nothingness. His girlfriend hits him with massive doses of the drug, enough to make him open and understanding regarding love and all the possibilities in his life: his ability to love her back, his ability to feel happiness, his ability to create promise and joy, his ability to take notice. While he is on the drug, he is daring, handsome, desirable, talented – worthy of the air he breathes. But once it wears off and the fear takes over, he is, once again, the scourge of humanity.

And Bonnie, his girlfriend and dealer, is not reprehensible in this story. She reminded me of the Caterine Vauban character in I Heart Huckabees, and the story is quite similar in theme. The drug she provides is actually akin to love, and Frank’s own mind can’t let him accept it or enjoy it—can’t to the point that his flesh festers with a bloody infection at the injection site.

“I told her it didn’t work. I told her it felt wrong.
She said I looked great.
She said I looked happy. She said I looked right. She said I was fast.
I said I needed a new one.
She said the seed was just the inspiration.
She said that I take care of the rest.
She said it’s all a choice.
I said I needed a new one.”

The book is deliberately styled to be coarse and abrupt, disoriented, at times naïve, and a little reminiscent of Jack’s nervous breakdown at the typewriter in The Shining, but the metaphoric depth is truly sublime. Trainspotting meets Nietzsche in Wonderland; this is not a book about drug addiction. That would be too prosaic and easy in my opinion. No, the surface addiction is the excuse, as it always is. This book is about the addiction to fear, to cynicism, to blame and self-loathing, the black plague of humanity, which is just as dangerous and lethal as any drug. More so for some. So affected, they fear the very idea of being alive. Because no matter what they do, say, or think … none of it is good enough or worth anything, none of it actually means anything, thus, the lack of substance or something nullifies their very existence. They know they have a need and yet they cannot define it, and so the affected are beautiful creatures, suckers for the snake-oil, if you will, and exploitation is big business. Even the self-help charlatans will say, “That ain’t no secret.” The desperate will look for inspiration and magic saviours everywhere … even in toothpaste. Those white teeth might just be the something that will cure all your ills, at the very least, your toothache. Funny.

Yes … this is by far the best self-published book I read last year. One of THE best books I read all year, including the mainstream stuff. An existentialist’s dream, the author has dug in deep and laid bare the raw emotion so candidly that we can actually feel the futility, the desperation, and the humour. Yes, even with abject and impoverished souls, there is still humour: When a dark stranger comes to see Dusty, Dusty offers the man a glass of water. When the man declines, Dusty asks, “You sure, I have a Brita.” The implications of that line had me rolling out of my seat.

All in all, I think with a little minor editing this could be a real masterpiece, is a real masterpiece. Even the title is brilliant with its use of symbolism. I cannot wait to read more from this author. This is true and timeless literature. Philip Dick would be proud.


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