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The Broken Record Technique [Paperback]

Lee Henderson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 5 2008

Adolescent boys lost in sumo wrestler costumes battle it out in a suburban yard as their parents stake the odds. A boy disappears from his home, lured by a man who looks exactly like his father. A young man spends a potentially heroic day with his wife at the new wave pool, while trying to save his marriage. These are quirky, engaging stories both afflicted and inspired by the profound isolation and psychic drift that are inherent in a world of talk show television, mega-malls, and suburban sprawl. In his stunning and critically acclaimed debut collection, Lee Henderson evokes a world both utterly strange, yet eerily familiar.


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Lee Henderson's debut collection of short fiction is an eccentric, mostly scintillating affair, packed with oddities and graced with an emotional pitch that warbles between ennui and outright heartbreak. The Broken Record Technique seems like the kind of writing that is usually pegged as suburban, but Henderson's eyes and ears are capable of looking outside of the strip malls, and a few of his stories bring an eerily urbanized view of farm life to the page.

Henderson's best stories are wholly unforgettable. The finale of The Broken Record Technique, the enigmatically titled "W," seems like the stuff of a bizarre TV movie: a young boy is abducted from his family's small-town home by a man who looks exactly like his father. The only witness to the crime is a remarkable toy, an electronic talking marmot blessed with formidable artificial intelligence. As the police haplessly search for clues to the case, the marmot gradually starves to death like a plush tamagotchi, losing its recorded evidence. Other highlights include "Spines a Length of Velcro," the tale of two suburban preteens forced to don plastic suits and sumo-wrestle for the delight of their betting, flirting, and inebriated parents; and "The Unfortunate," the touching tale of a doomed little boy born with a head the shape of a football who grows up in a rural home and eventually takes a job killing chickens.

A few of these stories feel like filler--postmodernism by the numbers that could have come from the pen of any young North American male writer. Nonetheless, the best stories in The Broken Record Technique far outshine the weak ones, and this is a formidable (and entertaining) first collection. --Jack Illingworth --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Henderson is…a master of the deadpan who manages always to avoid sinking into ennui…Highly recommended.” - - Geist

“Vancouverite Lee Henderson has 10 word-perfect stories of suburban satire that will confirm all your most bitter memories." - - The Georgia Straight

“…Fans of literary texture and depth will undoubtedly love losing themselves in Broken Record’s labyrinth of language.” - - EYE weekly

“It’s a strange and disquieting world and one that we are privileged to visit though the 10 stories in this inaugural collection.” - - Vancouver Sun

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most exciting book I've read in ages! Oct. 1 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I came across this book completely by accident while browsing in a bookstore. The cover art was what initially grabbed me, and within seconds of opening the book to a random page, I was hooked. The story was about children engaged in one of those dress-up sumo wrestling matches during a block party. The writing was so evocative and compelling, full of humour and yet tinged with sadness, that I just had to buy the book. I read the book from cover to cover in two days. Each story was so innovative and exciting, the characters so unique and yet undeniably real, that reading this book was sweet relief from the usual cliched stuff that's out there. I can't wait to read this writer's next book!
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wahoo! This book rocks! Dec 2 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Why oh why did not this book receive more press? I would say this probably the best short story collection of the year to come out of Canada, and yes, that includes all the ones that were up for fancy awards and those that saturated the press. The stories are all seeped in real emotion (not that fake literary emotion), laugh-out-loud humour, deep sadness, and wicked strangeness. Lee Henderson is a diamond-cut treasure.
I loved loved loved this book. Rumour has it, he's writing a novel. How lucky are we?
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most exciting book I've read in ages! Oct. 1 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I came across this book completely by accident while browsing in a bookstore. The cover art was what initially grabbed me, and within seconds of opening the book to a random page, I was hooked. The story was about children engaged in one of those dress-up sumo wrestling matches during a block party. The writing was so evocative and compelling, full of humour and yet tinged with sadness, that I just had to buy the book. I read the book from cover to cover in two days. Each story was so innovative and exciting, the characters so unique and yet undeniably real, that reading this book was sweet relief from the usual cliched stuff that's out there. I can't wait to read this writer's next book!
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich and unique stories Nov. 13 2012
By SilverMind - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Lee Henderson's collection of short stories is at times confusing, and at others, mesmerizing. And both aspects of his work are perfectly enjoyable. Mostly set in a surrealist urban landscape, the stories in the collection are varied, and thus maintain the attention of the reader throughout. The stories can sometimes be challenging to read, as the writing style complements well the surreal and disjointed settings of the stories. Henderson incorporates into his writing a unique sense of humour which is at often times sad. In fact, an air of melancholy hangs over most of the stories that form part of this collection. While the stories themselves are quite different from each other, the collection seems to explore the everyday bittersweet tragedies of our modern world. If you're interesting in picking up a book by a unique Canadian author, then I would recommend this one to you.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wahoo! This book rocks! Dec 2 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Why oh why did not this book receive more press? I would say this probably the best short story collection of the year to come out of Canada, and yes, that includes all the ones that were up for fancy awards and those that saturated the press. The stories are all seeped in real emotion (not that fake literary emotion), laugh-out-loud humour, deep sadness, and wicked strangeness. Lee Henderson is a diamond-cut treasure.
I loved loved loved this book. Rumour has it, he's writing a novel. How lucky are we?
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