“Robert Burke Warren's sensory acumen and keen eye for detail – emotional and physical – make Perfectly Broken a wonderful ride. Fantastic, sharp dialogue and vivid characters, all in a distinctive, captivating voice. A stunning debut novel.” – Rosanne Cash, multi-Grammy winner, author of New York Times bestseller Composed
“A contemporary fable that hits home on many levels: frustrations of fleeting musical stardom, creative competition, existential angst, aging, parenting, and a bit of erotica. Perfectly Broken is both believable and relatable.”
– Creative Loafing
“Robert Burke Warren’s Perfectly Broken is an exceptional debut novel that points to greater things in its author’s future. Through its precise prose, the alchemical composition of its story, and the honest emotion that pervades its pages this book is a study in how to make realistic minimalism work, one that never puts the appearance of truth above the reality of it. One that never forgets fiction at its best is a little like magic.”
– The Nervous Breakdown
“Perfectly Broken is a masterpiece.”
- Tome Tender
“Riveting. The storyline is unpredictable and the all characters are well defined.”
- Book Bug
“It is cool, hip and has just the right amount of sex, drugs and rock & roll.”
- Literarily Illumined
“Warren has produced a fine, enjoyable book.”
- Lit Reactor
“A real story, populated with real characters, people fully developed and realized.”
- Vox Libris
“This book is well worth your time.”
“The book really spoke to me.”
- From the TBR Pile
“This is a great book about a group of friends struggling to be grown-ups.”
- Chaos is a Friend of Mine
“Warren is a funny, observant writer who has added a nice entry to the oeuvre of contemporary dad fiction.”
– Everyday I Write the Book
“Warren writes some very steamy sex scenes, and he has some interesting things to say about marriage and friendship. I highly recommend Perfectly Broken, especially for anyone who likes Jonathan Tropper's books.”
His rock star days may be behind him, but stay-at-home dad Grant Kelly's life is getting more interesting by the day. It's the beginning of the post 9/11 era, and he and his wife and four-year-old son have traded a New York City apartment for a Catskills farmhouse, where ghosts from the past, worries for the future, and temptations in the present converge to bring about drastic changes in their marriage, their friendships, and their family.
A gorgeously nuanced novel with unforgettable characters, Perfectly Broken is a story of human frailty, the endurance of the heart, and the power and possibility of forgiveness.
“Whether writing about music, parenthood, or life in the sticks, every page crackles with been-there-done-that verisimilitude. At turns funny and suspenseful, heartwarming and heartbreaking, Perfectly Broken hits all the right notes, covering fame and fortune, love and death, success and failure, and fatherhood and marriage. A triumphant debut.” - Greg Olear, author of Los Angeles Times bestseller Fathermucker
Robert Burke Warren is a musician and writer whose work has appeared in Paste, Salon, The Bitter Southerner, The Good Men Project, The Rumpus, The Woodstock Times, Texas Music, Brooklyn Parent, Chronogram, The Weeklings, and the Da Capo anthology, The Show I’ll Never Forget. He lives in the Catskill Mountains with his family. This is his first novel.
SONGS INSPIRED BY PERFECTLY BROKEN...
A Stranger to You
Kiss My Ring
What the Funk Is Up?
Words Fail Me
The ache in my thighs reminds me of jumping off speaker cabinets during a show by my former band, Stereoblind. A similar burn troubled my leg muscles back then, in the late eighties and early nineties, when I’d wake up in a strange bed, post-gig, stiff from exertion, ears ringing, the occasional sleeping stranger at my side. All pre-marriage, pre-fatherhood.
This pain is from walking up and down, up and down five flights of stairs all day, removing my family’s possessions from our tenement apartment. I straighten up from the final duct-taped box marked “MIXTAPES—’97,” and step back from the U-Haul trailer to assess our material goods: TV/VCR combo, vintage (and faux vintage) clothes, furniture salvaged from these very East Village street corners, a dozen or so saved LPs (unplayed for years), my wife Beth’s chapbooks and dog-eared spiral-bounds, and my 1962 Ampeg Portaflex B-15 bass amp.
In planning this dreaded day, I’d insisted we forgo professional movers, opting instead to spend hours cramming everything into our ’95 Camry and the trailer. Save a few bucks, assert some male brio, compensate for four years of decidedly non-macho stay-at-home dadhood.
Beth did her part, boxing and bagging up our life, working up a dusty sweat. She’s in better shape than me. In a threadbare, sleeveless Pyramid Club T-shirt, her anterior deltoids ripple, remnants of a corporate gym membership now months lapsed.
Retired rock star Paul, gone for cigarettes and beer, has kept watch over our four-year-old son, Evan, while Beth and I work. He is Evan’s godfather, although they both prefer the term padrino—Spanish for “little dad.” On his credit cards, Paul’s surname is Fernandez. On liner notes, it’s Fairchild.
Of all our friends and neighbors, only Paul came through for us on Moving Day, in part because he has no job. But, as ever, Padrino entertained Evan, shielding him like a jester protecting a boy king from court anxieties. Around noon, he squatted down to inspect Evan’s Sharpie art on the moving boxes.
“Hey little man,” he said. “What’re you drawing? A flying poop? Fuckin’ A! That’s totally a flying poop, like super poop or something.”
After squeals of laughter, Evan said, “Padrino! It’s a bee!”
Beth and I watched from the doorway. She sob-laughed quietly into my shoulder, pressing tearstains into the faded black of my T-shirt.
A new home awaits us, a furnished rental property courtesy of our old running buddies Trip and Christa Lamont. Their rental, a 1900 farmhouse they call Shulz House, is on a dead-end road three hours north, in rural Mt. Marie, New York.
After 9/11, Trip and Christa headed for the hills, buying a couple pieces of land in the Catskill Mountains, far away from the ashes of the World Trade Center and, they hoped, the memories of eight unsuccessful IVF attempts. They’ve since adopted a two-and-a-half-year-old Chinese girl named Katie, and all are nesting in a Victorian down the street from Shulz House. In recent emails, Trip refers to our upcoming tenancy in the Lamont “fiefdom.” This does not strike deeply indebted me as particularly funny. But Beth and I are desperate and, sight unseen, we’ve accepted our friends’ kind offer of a home.
We’ve not laid eyes on Trip and Christa in just over a year. Their recent glossy Christmas card showed only tiny Katie, standing in a snow trench before a garlanded porch, her wide, expressionless face framed by a pink snowsuit hood. Season’s Greetings from the Lamonts! Trip, Christa & Katie! The forced gaiety struck Beth and me as eerie.
I’ll be digging snow trenches soon, ugh. I’m hoping global warming will keep this task at bay, as I am pear-shaped where I once was Bowie-thin, and easily winded.