Everything Empty Is Broken, a Novel

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Jaimy Gordon


Everything Empty Is Broken is a novel of contrasts and juxtapositions. Drawing on the traditions of the literary grotesque and fantastic literature, the novel explores the intersections of the grotesque character and the quotidian setting. The novel is told through fragments and an internal novella-in-stories and openly invites readers to question the nature of stoiy-telling and this story's telling in particular. The formulation and corruption of desire, the contagiousness of affliction and obsession, the origins and possibilities of hope and the will, and the loves of one's life all figure into the central narrative. Interwoven plotlines follow three people as they love, hurt, and steal from one another with abandon, all the while converging towards a united future in a small, lakefront town. Christianne Gauthier is concert violinist beholden to a modern-day patron for her performance career; she also knows she will one day lose her mind. Anderson, her student, is a man-boy who has learned all he knows of music from Christianne, and he fears, all he knows of life. Charles, once a player and now a librarian, has left Christianne, his former lover, behind. He seeks only to be left alone to drunken days among rotting books. Each of these three is far more likely to experience an American dream while asleep than while awake, yet they are all still hoping. For something, for anything. Everything Empty Is Broken is the story of a man and a boy both in love with and repelled by the same woman—a prodigy who has brought them into contact with their abilities and inadequacies, and who is, ultimately, a madwoman who refuses to destroy either of them, as perhaps they both wish she would.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Abstract Only

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