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Arthur Bradford

November 30, 2014

I anticipated liking Arthur Bradford’s story, “Lost Limbs.”

I have a weird interest in biid, which is body identity integrity disorder, which is when someone has a compulsion to sever a limb in order to make themselves feel more complete.
I first read about this disorder in a book that I have since tried tracking down so I could read it again. But all I can remember from the book is that there is a boy and a girl, they run away to New York City and go to a nightclub for people who have biid. And there is also this scene where the girl is sitting on the toilet pissing and the boy pisses into the bowl between her legs while he is standing. If you Google a combination of those key words, you will probably find posts from me trying to get people to help me figure out what that book is.
Anyways, I am not sure what it is exactly that interests me about biid. Probably the body’s physical response to psychological absences. Or rather the psychological response to render those absences bodily.

At some point, my interest in biid extended to an interest in severed limbs in general.

So in Bradford’s story, the narrator meets a woman who is missing her arm.

“I was in an car accident,” she said. “Actually, it was a van accident. I was 11 years old. We were on a school trip.”


“Did anybody die?”


“No.”


“That’s good.”


“Yes.”


“Did they try to sew your arm back on?”


“It was crushed. The van rolled over onto it.”

This is interesting to me because when I was about 11 years old I got into a really bad van accident. The van got hit by a drunk driver and turned it over. The side of the door was peeled back like a sardine tin. No one died, but the boy who was sitting next to me was sitting next to the door. And the metal severed his arm so badly they had to amputate it just below the shoulder. Maybe this has something to do with my interest in severed limbs.

But the girl from the story is just telling a story; it’s not even true about the van. She later admits she was born without the arm.

These facts are the only things that interest me about the story. Not the way it was told or craft or any other possible element that either appears or fails to appear with in it.

I figure the limb is a metaphor for the desiderata of the narrator’s life.

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