Monday, January 7, 2008

Brockmeier's Multi-Layered Views

You know the moments where the world seems perfect and beautiful precisely because of all it's diversity and faults? When you are plugged into an iPod listening to music while waiting at the airport and everyone appears to move to the music in an odd synchronization? Or when you look out upon a snowy world in all its silent splendor and for a brief second, everything is a glimpse of heaven? Or a split second of utter and complete zen-like happiness descends upon you at the most routine time (showering, eating breakfast, shaving, walking the dog, watching a child at play)?

It is that precise moment when the world is illuminated in a way that you are left breathless; for your heart flutters a few times and it's as if the world is such pure perfection that with one breath you will break its delicate magic spell.

That moment is what it is like to read Kevin Brockmeier's short stories. And his latest collection (The View From the Seventh Layer, arriving March 4, 2008 to an indie bookstore near you) is a shining beacon atop a whitewashed lighthouse of whimsical, haunting, original, perfect, fantastical prose. The stories are hypnotic, mesmerizing whiffs of fantasy blended with the brutal realities of human existence. From a thousand parakeets that mimic the daily sounds of a mute's life to a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story of mundane proportions. From photos that observe a houseguest's every move and word to a man who buys a thrift store overcoat only to discover the former owner was God and that its pockets spill over with earnest, and frightening, prayers.

Brockmeier's gifts are in his precision writing: Each word carefully placed "just so", and in his effortless way of seeing beauty in the simplest things, the unlikeliest of people. To see the world through his literary windows is to learn to love unconditionally and not take for granted the billions of little things that mosaic our lives.

I know I only taunt readers with this review as you must wait nearly 2 months for this collection to arrive on shelves. But, Dear Reader!, it will be well worth the wait, I promise you! For your reward will be his presence at our Downer Avenue store on March 27th at 7pm. To tide yourself over I suggest reading his last novel (also something very, very special): The Brief History of the Dead. It will be only a taste of the magic that is to come.


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