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“Broken” has been described as "Trainspotting" meet "Crash" (Tailfish Productions- Taylor Van Arsdale). Broken, narrated by it’s complex characters, is a humorous, irreverent and twisted look into the lives of thirteen strangers. Skye is a teenage homeless musician battling a drug addiction who dreams of unattainable rock stardom. She’s befriended by Amber, a young mother on the run from two dangerous men from her past. The two girls form a mutually indispensable bond, one that could ultimately save them. Dylan is a pseudo-intellectual-Chuck Palahniuk wanna-be, and a total cynic. He lives with TJ, an out of work actor, who fails auditions by day, and wears a hamburger suit outside a burger joint at the mall by night. TJ and Dylan are artistic failures in need of a muse to kick start their careers. “Broken” follows several other interesting individuals, each with their own unique narrative as they try to put the pieces of their lives back together.
The customers were the worst. I’d had it with these rich, depressed, trophy housewives who spent their perpetual free time popping pills and shopping for overpriced clothes made by nine-year-old kids in Chinese sweatshops. They shop, they purchase, they get more depressed, and the cycle repeats. They’re forever spending their lawyer husband’s blood money on ridiculous designer clothes to wear the following Tuesday afternoon on their next shopping binge.
“Thank you, Larry, for bringing me tonight. The benevolence was inspiring. I had an exquisite time,” said Big Bird lady.
She could have simply said, Thanks, I had fun, but she probably wanted to show off the sophisticated words she learned in her book club.
I retrieved her Jaguar. She got in and turned on her CD player. Britney Spears was her music of choice. I became dumber in the few seconds I was forced to listen to it.
The distasteful music rich people play in their cars is one of the worst parts of the job. Not once had I ever parked a luxury vehicle playing decent punk music. Unless you count Green Day as punk, which I don’t. Every once in a while, I’d steal a CD or two, not to keep, but to destroy. I was on a mission to rid the world of bad music, one Matchbox Twenty CD at a time
Another couple approached. They, like most, were pretending to be in love.
Forgive me if I sound jaded. Forgive me if I think the only part of love that’s worth a damn is the first few days together. The first look, the first conversation, the first touch, the first kiss, the first fuck, after the novelty of it all wears off, it’s all down hill.
After Allison called me weird, broke up with me, and destroyed me in high school, I swore off love and fell into a string of lusty pseudo-relationships. There was Theresa, Erika, Terry, Monica, Susan, and Kim. There was Lucinda, who told me her biggest passion in life was great sex. And she backed it up. Nothing about any of these women was unique, and none of them were interesting. They were fleshy playgrounds of tits and ass that gave me orgasms, but rarely provoked thought.
But then there was Melinda. She was an exotic orgy of ethnicities; her parents’ DNA blended into something spectacular. I tried to avoid falling in love with Melinda, but she tried that much harder to win it. Melinda pampered my injured heart, nurturing it back to health. Then, once she knew she had me, she reached down my throat, ripped out my heart, and stomped it into a worthless lump of flesh. She rammed my dead heart back into my chest and disappeared, leaving me alone to stitch myself up.
That fucking bitch Melinda ruined me in four weeks flat.
Last month, Melinda visited me, unannounced, while I was working at the Starr club. I was irritable and said something stupid to her. Melinda stormed off, and later I caught her making out with my co-worker in the bathroom. I kicked his ass and lost my job.
And then Melinda told me she was pregnant with my child.
“I want you to know I’m with you in this,” I said, offering her my life. “I know we’ve had a rough time, but we can make this work.”
“I already aborted it. I’d never have your child,” she said, speaking casually as if it were just some worthless thing, like half an uneaten donut she decided to throw out.
Her intention was to hurt me.
And now I park cars for a living.
Tonight, I was parking cars at a celebrity charity event. The wealthy buy pretentious art they don’t understand and take it home to display like a trophy. I take care of their luxury vehicles while wearing my red linen monkey suit and cap provided by my company. My pay was a paltry eight dollars an hour, so to make the job worthwhile, I stole loose change from their cars.
The rich don’t notice missing change.
Tonight’s event was for malnourished children in Africa. The cost to put on the party was probably more than whatever money they were sending overseas. The wealthy gather and listen to speeches stolen from embroidered pillows in Christian bookstores. They eat, fawn over the celebrities, get drunk, and hand over a couple dollars so they can go home feeling better about their self-indulgent lives.
But maybe the rich aren’t so bad.
Maybe if I had been rich, Melinda wouldn’t have aborted my baby.
All Access Magazine: 9 out of 10 rating
Rating points: 9 out of 10
Hermosa Beach, California is where new coming novelist, J. Matthew Nespoli resides, with his loving wife and newborn son, Mr. Nespoli has spent his time traveling, meeting new people, and keeping himself occupied at all costs, and now he’s finally cranked! Well sort of, with his debut efforts entitled “Broken”.
Mr. Nespoli takes us into the lives of thirteen complete strangers whose lives have become entangled in a mix-matched misfortune of unforgiving tragedy. Chronicling their journey as they seek what most would want more than anything in a crisis such as theirs…. happiness. Take Skye for instance, she’s a teenager on the rise of rock stardom. Suffering the despair of becoming homeless let alone battling the fence addiction of being a drug addict, this rock star will forever live a dreamless land of unattainable misery. Whilst Amber, a young mother on the run, is running for her life from two dangerous men from her past, who of course want nothing more than to have their way with this little dismal in distress. But will they have their chance?
It’s untelling what might happen but then again you never know until you read in and see for yourself. But enough about the girl’s lives what about the men? Indeed these two young women do befriend one another building an unforgettable bond unlike any other. Whereas Dylan and TJ suffer their own misfortunes, Dylan being a pseudo-intellectual-Chuck Palahniuk wanna-be type, not to mention being a total cynic. While his roommate TJ takes the night shift flipping burgers at the local mall stand while struggling to full fill his dream of becoming the next world famous actor. Both these men haven’t gotten a clue as to how their lives will end up.
In the end, “Broken”, walks away with being that must read book of the New Year – having won an award for being the best short story from Joyous Publishing in 2006, but has also been adapted as a screenplay currently being shopped around the Hollywood turf. Fans of such films as Crash, and Fight Club will easily fall head over heels.
Joshua M. Patton
This book is ambitious. The appendix of the book lists over a dozen major characters and throughout the story we get to see the world through their eyes, if only for just a moment. The Author grasped my attention through unfair means, I am a native Pittsburgher and Steelers Fan and Jerome Bettis makes a cameo in the book in the first few pages. However, once that scene was over, I was interested enough in the characters. The first point-of-view shift occurs after two of the characters violently interact physically. This was sufficiently jarring to introduce what is a major narrative device in the book, the shifting point-of-view of the characters throughout the novel.
I'll admit, I was skeptical at first. The story was gripping from the first dozen pages, but I found myself wondering whether or not the story would be better served or more clearly connected were the story written entirely in the the third person. I didn't think of it again until when I finished the book and I realized that it couldn't have been written any other way. As much of a part of the story as the events that happen to the characters are, what constitutes a larger understanding of it all comes from not only the characters' thoughts but also their view of the world.
To not get into specific detail about the scenes, as the element of surprise in the connections is another fun aspect to the story, but in different instances we see the same scene from different characters' perspectives. This serves to show that the reality of a situation is subjective; what one character might find an embarrassing circumstance another finds endearing, among others.
Another benefit of of the multi-perspective storytelling is that it serves for the ending to feel more like a real life one. Some are happy. Some are tragic. All of them are fully realized changes in character that exemplify all aspects of the human mood: despair, joy, sadness, anger, murder, rape, relations with others of different genders and races, Love, and HOPE. It is the type of story that gets better after repeated readings. It would make a particularly good film or even series. Broken is a story that is wildly original, but resonates with an honesty of feeling that readers can find in the important stories in the history of countless literary cultures.
MENDING WHAT HAS BEEN BROKEN
Reviewed by Janet Grace Riehl
If your life has been broken, can it be mended? J. Matthew Nespoli’s debut novel “Broken” seeks to answer this heartfelt question many of us have asked in our lives.
Nespoli assembles a group of 14 desperately damaged characters equally balanced by gender. That’s a lot of characters to follow. Fortunately, there’s an appendix to help the reader keep them all straight. The book spans ten years in Los Angeles from October 1996 to April 2006 in a story told through alternating points of view structured by interlocking vignettes.
In the early part of “Broken,” we meet both rich and poor disaffected youths who are equally scarred by abuse and addiction. Sex, drugs, and violence mark and mar lives on the edge—from whatever class. Pursued by their demons they sabotage and break their dreams of fame, fortune, and out-sized success.
These characters are entrenched in their suffering whose roots sometimes arise from situations and sometimes from stupidity. What holds their individual lives and relationships together? The exchange between Amber and Ron (p. 146) answers this question clearly:
Amber: “Sometimes I think we’re all living a different version of the same sad story.”
Ron: “We were two broken people who needed each other.”
Gradually each of the 14 characters begin to heal their broken lives as these lives wind ever more tightly together. They learn to “keep walking/despite…broken selves” (p. 356). As the tagline says, “We are all a little broken; love is the glue that keeps us from completely falling apart.”
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