Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kevin Brockmeier

I read Kevin Brockmeier's A Brief History of the Dead a few years ago and enjoyed it, but never picked up any of his other works until a week ago.  Brockmeier uses some fantasy elements in his book while keeping the premise believable at the same time.  For instance, in Brief History a virus spreads throughout the world, eliminating the world's population except for Laura, who is doing research in the Antarctic.  The dead still exist in "the city," which is like another dimension of our world.  They only exist their for as long as someone living (Laura) keeps them alive in her memories.  What I love about Brockmeier's writing is that I feel like I know the characters within the first few pages. 

This title came back to me when I was searching around for something different to read, so I decided to try Brockmeier again.  His book of short stories, The View From the Seventh Layer, is a wonderful read.  Some of the stories have fantasy elements and others are more traditional, but again, the characters are remarkable and the reader can identify with them.  There's a story of a woman who was "abducted" by an entity from the seventh layer of the universe.  Another story follows a philosophy major who is perplexed by the quesiton of why a few prominent philosophers suddenly stopped their practice.  There's even a Choose Your Own Adventure story! 

After reading the The View From the Seventh Layer, I found Brockmeier's newest title, The Illumination.  This book reads as a collection of short stories that are intertwined by a fantastic occurence and a book.  Each chapter deals with one of the six major characters.  Without warning the entire world is affected by the "Illumination" which causes a person's (or animal's) injuries to glow with a white light.  Everything from bumps and bruises to broken bones and cancer glow with this light.  The main characters in the story are also affected in different ways by a book containing love notes from a husband to a wife.  Each life is affected by the "Illumination" and the book of love notes in a profound way.

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