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Review 34: Broken Bulbs by Eddie Wright

Broken Bulbs
by Eddie Wright
Copyright: © 2008
$9.00 Paperback
Free E-book
144 Pages

As I write this review, I’m listening to the Belgian rock band K’s Choice hit song “Not An Addict,” the first single from their 1996 album called Paradise in Me.  The lines, “It’s not a habit, it’s cool. I feel alive. If you don’t have it your on the other side,” kept playing over and over in my mind as I read the short novella, Broken Bulbs, by Eddie Wright.  This brilliantly twisted farce is the story of one man’s desperate journey for what Wright so aptly calls “somethingness.”

The story is told from the point of view of Frank Fisher, and oh what a point of view it is.  The first chapter alone is a nauseating churn of short choppy staccato sentences, random thoughts and actions, that read like beat poetry at a slam.  I actually had a lot of fun going back and reading them out loud.  The author does a magnificent job of putting you into the head of Frank Fisher, who is suffering from a strange addiction.

You, the reader, will be drunk on words just after the first five pages.  I loved the way Wright also uses a bit of poetic flare in his writing to strengthen his point, giving certain words beats and meters that force them to stick in the reader’s mind.  Here’s an example…

The mummy wrap ‘round my head is soaked with dirt and blood. It needs to be changed but I’m sick of it. Sick of this. It covers my eye. My right eye. Half the world is gone. Only the left side exists.

I chew my nails again. Bite ‘em too low. Too short. They hurt. They bleed. They drip. I drip.

Drip.

Drip.

Drip.

RING RING RING RING RING RING RING

The phone.

Sure, an editor at a traditional publishing company would rip this story apart and use Wright’s syntax (Ha! What syntax??) for toilet paper.  But a story like this really embraces the true art of self-publishing anyway.  It is obvious the writer has had a lot of fun writing this story, and intends for his audience to have just as much fun while reading it.  His play on words, letting his protagonist discover the words along with the reader, brings much excitement to this quick read…

I think I lost it now. Do I care? Do I need it? Do I need anything? I just need this. This pulse. This pulsating…ness? Pulsatingness. In my head. I need pulsatingness.

So, Frank meets up with a strange girl named Bonnie who injects “inspiration” directly into Frank’s brain.  The scene of the two of them in the diner talking about tumors, cigarettes, and obsessing over the color of Bonnie’s eyes is completely hysterical!  With more lines like “a Peter Brady puberty shriek” and “a chihuahua with a smack habit” the book will have you saying out loud, “Did I really just read that?”  The whole thing is filled with crazy quips and one liners worthy of a high lighter so you can memorize and use them later.

Wright treats the pathetic nature of these two characters in a light that does not ask you to pity them.  Simple minds will roll their eyes and wonder off to watch reruns of Intervention.  Those a bit more open minded to the subject of addicts and their afflictions will truly appreciate these messy characters for the odd and yes, humorous and often outlandish, situations the author as put them in.

Broken Bulbs is like a Shyamalan movie but without the DVD extras to explain all the hidden meanings to you.  In a fit of bloody puss-filled dose of inspiration, Frank tackles a screenplay he has been writing called “A Big Pile of Misery: The Life and Times of Dusty.”  In a childhood scene, Dusty is watching television with the volume turned up to drown out the violent screams coming from outside his room.  His bedroom is a mess and cluttered with toys.  Dusty pauses to focus on a hamster cage on his dresser.  The hamster inside is wildly running in his exercise wheel, spinning and spinning.  Smash! Crash! More screams on the other side of the wall.  Dusty looks back at the hamster, running and running around and around in his wheel but getting nowhere.  Dusty takes a sniff and says to the hamster, “Your cage smells.”  Fade to black.

In another scene when Bonnie is about to inject Frank with a dose of the magic drug, she unwraps his hideous sweaty bandages to reveal matted hair and gore, but Frank doesn’t care.  He begs her to give it to him.  As she injects him with the implantation, she whispers in his ear, “You. Are. Not. Nothing.”

Frank’s obsessive tendencies grow out of control and redundant after about 50 pages, but Wright uses this to an advantage.  He has painted the absolute perfect spot-on portrait of the mind of an addict.  You are supposed to grow tired of this character who is out of control, seeking redemption, but continuing to make no effort at a cure. But take this for instance…

And I think that this, this is something. This is something. This is nothing. This is The Everything.

Even the author stating the obvious in the most simplistic of ways gives this short read more depth and meaning that you’d ever imagine.  The story culminates with the ultimate factor towards Frank realizing and admitting he has an addiction.  And I don’t mean recovery…I mean conclusion! Frank’s relationship with Bonnie and the “A-ha!” drug that sends the bulbs in his brain glowing cannot coincide with or without each other, but Frank can’t finish his screenplay without them.  There’s another movie script scene with Dusty’s hamster at the end that you’ll be dying to see on the big screen.  Here’s a small taste straight from the Hamster’s mouth…

I’m not gonna pretend like I know things, buddy. But I think that sometimes, you gotta suck on some pissy pine shavings before you know how good the sky can taste.

Overall, what a fun read!  Wright presents the themes of addiction in a new light, but does not belittle the sickness itself or the addict.  Some may sympathize with Frank.  As writers, many of us will relate.  How many words can you write without pots of coffee and cigarettes within reach, or whatever other magical musing drugs you feel you need to get the words out?  Eddie Wright pokes fun at those silly obsessive things we need to be creative and to make us feel important.  And that is the enlightening theme this novel shines upon!

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