The Illumination is a work of sheer imagination laid over the gritty reality of modern life. Using the device of a journal of love notes that passes through the hands of six different characters, Kevin Brockmeier examines questions about pain: how does pain affect us, how do we deal with it, what part does it play in the human condition? His six characters attempt various shifts: numbing it, rising above it, seeking out new pain and causing pain to others.
The jacket summary asks, "What if our pain was the most beautiful thing about us?" but I do not believe that The Illumination affirms that question. While the phenomenon of each individual's pain showing up as light is fascinating, even beautiful, it does not bring about any increase of empathy or kindness, (nor a decrease of violence or harm) in the world. Neither does any character's pain result in a predictable ...
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