Kelly Broich is mainly known for being the front man for COLLAPSE, the video art/filmmaking/ex-theater group out of Boise, Idaho. But with a new release this week, he unveils another side not involving cameras or actors. Apparently, in between productions, Broich has been laboring away at a literary work of satire. A novel called PRECIOUS.
I say laboring because PRECIOUS is a book which after reading had me wondering if novel writing will be more of a full-time devotion for Broich. It’s a very well-written book. And if you didn’t know his other side you’d think his main craft was novel writing, rather than, directing, scriptwriting and performing in an avant-garde production company.
PRECIOUS starts somewhere in suburban America, with a classic suburbanite heavyset woman, a widow named DORIS, who just lost her cat. Tension mounts as Precious the cat fails to surface after the usual calling out and waiting time is employed. Then a grisly discovery is made.
Soon after, we are introduced to CALEB, Doris’s 42 year old live at home son, who works as an equipment manager for the local minor league hockey team. Caleb learns of his “sisters” fate, and is stung to the core at the loss for many of the usual reasons one loses a pet, but mainly for another reason: a fantasy-based, bordering on perverted, reason, which reveals the Caleb character more fully.
The loss of Precious requires drastic action to be taken. For reasons of closure and for reasons of revenge. Also, for reasons of a newfound cable television based religion.
From here the novel sends you on an absurdist fictional journey, which is based on very realistic ingrained human beliefs. The unimagined consequences spiral into a bizarre and chilling climax. An excellent last chapter wraps the story up, and you’re left with a slew of satirical yet true to life issues for the mind to gnaw on over the coming days.
PRECIOUS is both an American novel and a human novel.
Broich manages to cover a fair chunk of classic Americana in very short time. Suburbia, sports addiction, American huckster religion, mindless consumerism, and classic overbearing parenting, are all succinctly tackled to impressive depth. They are also dealt with in a unique descriptive and often hilarious style. Caleb’s absurd athletic failings are that which you wouldn’t think. Instead of relying on beauty, Broich goes with chubby. Sex is handled in a rare way; the way it actually is in real life, simple and sloppy.
The human aspect of the novel centers on a few different themes, one of which is the relationship we have with nature.
PRECIOUS puts into play the idea of how humans create parameters as to what they accept as worthy animals, to be cuddled and “owned”, and unworthy animals to be shun, and even exterminated. Yet both belong to the same club, with the same instincts; yet exist within these different parameters based on the living situation which humans have established.
It’s this mix of going from sanitized suburbia, directly into the complexities of nature, that really make Precious a strong, solid read, with deeper issues to explore. Intertwining these two in such a seamless satirical manner, had me questioning the absurdity of our living situation and the boundaries that we pretend exist, but in reality are invisible. Caleb physically crosses those boundaries as he takes a few steps out of a manufactured neighborhood and enters into “nature”. And then he invades nature. All because the reverse had happened, and humans believe that somehow both sides should be able to see and respect these imaginary boundaries which they created, which of course is illogical thinking.
Perhaps it is Caleb’s simpleton nature which summons up a natural sense of overwhelming guilt for realizing he fell for the lie. While ingrained in the life of a sugar eating, living with mommy adult, he hasn’t had the commitments that most adults have had, thus he never developed a sense of ownership into a way of life which rationalizes the above boundaries. There is still some natural animalistic instinct in Caleb, to which he connects with. As we see unfold in the pages of PRECIOUS, this connection with the animal can be a redeeming and reassuring positive. But mixed with the human ego, it can also be a devastating and diabolical negative.
The theme of the imaginary boundary is satirized in different situations throughout the novel. The idea of crossing over to the other side and being accepted, the divide of deceased father and the still trying to please son, the boundary crossing of calling your mom a cunt; all explored in gut hilarious fashion.
PRECIOUS will have you connecting with the characters, laughing at their situations, and questioning the motives behind the bizarre human connectivity we have with nature and with our own manufactured reality.
author Kelly Broich
PRECIOUS is now available on Amazon. Get it here.