Book Review: “The Story of a Broken Arm,” by Amelia Vaughan

Childhood is a time when mysteries loom tall, when the mind is still sorting out what is real about the world, what might be just assumption, and what is outright lie. Childhood memories often betray a fluidity in the nature of reality, and the contrast between imagined dangers and their real consequences is the subject of this remarkable new work by first-time writer Amelia Vaughan.

Part memoir, part roman à clef, The Story of a Broken Arm tells the tale of a childhood accident that left lasting scars on its victim — and for all the brutal caprice of the incident, the account blends poetic questions of causality with meditations on the truth and power of the imagination into a visceral story of survival.

I believe The Story of a Broken Arm was printed only in limited edition, and I was very fortunate to secure an autographed first-run copy direct from the author.

Recently I stopped by my local print shop, DSJ Printing in Santa Monica, to pick up a batch of Machine of Death card games. While my order was being brought out, a tiny hand suddenly popped up from behind the counter and casually placed out a sign: “The Story of a Broken Arm, by Amelia Vaughan. Only $1.99!”

Of course I leapt at the chance. I grew up as a kid running around my parents’ business, amusing myself however I could in stacks of car parts, coming up with weird schemes and cutting up cardboard boxes and bolting together old pieces of junk just to stay sane during the interminable afternoons after school. I am totally, 100% behind any kid-at-the-parents’-work (DSJ has been Vaughan-owned for 55 years) enterprise. I gladly paid my $2, took a polite penny in change, and was pleased to also teach Amelia, who’s maybe about seven, the concept of “autographing your work.”

I didn’t realize it would only be a single page long until after I’d already pre-paid, but what a page it is. Action, pathos, heartbreak, and a bit of ambiguity right at the end as well. Anyway, I consider this an (inflation-adjusted) pay-it-forward for the guy who bought “bitten beans” from me for a dollar, back in about 1994, after I realized that “I SELL BITTEN BEANS” was the only thing I could spell out of a bunch of leftover stickers I found.

(I tell the story of the transaction in Tweet Me Harder 31, and my mom comes on to verify it all in TMH 34.)

The moral is: I started out as a teenager selling dry beans with bite marks. And look at me now! I own my own business where I sell even more ridiculous things. Support entrepreneurial kids, folks!


  • http://hymnos.existenz.ch christian

    And now you’ve just teached her the concept of internet piracy: You’ve published her entire work illegally for the whole world to see. Who’s gonna pay for it now?

  • http://akma.disseminary.org AKMA

    I’m still working on the intense paradoxicality of “My arm wasn’t broken but it was fractured”.

    Was this an official diagnosis? Is the author pointing to a subtle semantic difference, or is she suggesting that the apparent tautology with these synonyms points toward a traumatic confrontation with the law of non-contradiction?

    Clearly her debut publication promises a future in challenging prose narrative, somewhere between Ulysses and The Raw Shark Texts. More, more!

  • http://www.ding.net/bonsaikitten/ patg

    At first I thought that she shouldn’t be riding her bike in the house. Then I realized, that the author didn’t state she was riding the bike, only playing with it. Still, overall a lesson I think we all need to learn.

  • http://www.ding.net/bonsaikitten/ patg

    Dave,
    Do you still have that cool Civil Defense book that is in the picture from your parents store?

    DM: That’s not a book! That is some sort of plaque or award from the auto parts manufactuer Beck/Arnley.

  • Valis

    Aww Christian, I hope nobody’s heartless enough to deprive this author of her royalties :P

  • Guy le Dude

    I feel fortunate to have that excerpt from the book published on the site… Yes, I’m considering it an excerpt, for I know better than to accuse Mr David Malki ! of piracy.

    (Yeah, even AFTER he told us it was only one page, that it was all there was, that we know it was the whole thing, I still REFUSE to accuse him of depriving an author her props! Oh, and copyright is sooo twentieth century, you know?)

  • http://www.karlhabegger.com Karl Habegger

    David, Please post a spoiler alert next time. I’ve been waiting to finish “The Story of a Broken Arm” until I had some quiet free time. I just accidentally read the last sentence in your photo. Completely ruined.