The Brief History of the Dead Summary and Reviews

The Brief History of the Dead

by Kevin Brockmeier

The Brief History of the Dead
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2007
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

From Kevin Brockmeier, one of this generation's most inventive young writers, comes a striking new novel about death, life, and the mysterious place in between. The City is inhabited by those who have departed Earth but are still remembered by the living. They will reside in this afterlife until they are completely forgotten. But the City is shrinking, and the residents clearing out. Some of the holdouts, like Luka Sims, who produces the City's only newspaper, are wondering what exactly is going on. Others, like Coleman Kinzler, believe it is the beginning of the end. Meanwhile, Laura Byrd is trapped in an Antarctic research station, her supplies are running low, her radio finds only static, and the power is failing. With little choice, Laura sets out across the ice to look for help, but time is running out. Kevin Brockmeier alternates these two storylines to create a lyrical and haunting story about love, loss and the power of memory.

First published by Pantheon in 2006

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review... Other subplots are equally convincing and reflect on relationships in a beautiful, delicate manner." - Publishers Weekly

"Adult/High School..Brockmeier's haunting reminder of how connected people are to one another will appeal to readers of fantasy yearning for a bit more to think about than the usual fare offers." - School Library Journal

"Although it never quite lives up to its promising premise, the novel's Borges-like spirit will appeal to select readers." - Booklist

"Beautifully written and brilliantly realized, this imaginative work...delivers a startling sense of what it really means to be alive." - Library Journal

"It's a striking premise and, for much of the novel, deftly told through hints and rumors. But as Brockmeier alternates between Laura's story of survival in Antarctica and the daily lives in the afterlife, he uses Laura's memories as a transition between the two worlds. As Tolstoy said, art is in the transitions, and here Brockmeier's seams are showing." - The Washington Post

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Reader Reviews

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Michael

Seven Years Later and I'm Still Thinking About This Book
I picked this book up out of my high school library when I was sixteen. It caught my attention on the first page and I devoured the entire thing in a day. I often find myself thinking about this book and telling people about it because it is so captivating. A real feast for the mind. It honestly scared the pants off of me a few times, but not in the typical hokey "jump" sort of way. But a genuine creeped out, scared of the unknown feeling. The way he describes the transition from life into death left me breathless. I truly love this book and it's wormed it's way into my mind and will be there for years to come.

Kelli Robinson

Intriguing Premise
This was a reread for me. The premise of the book is so intriguing: a story split between a city of the "living dead" who only remain in the city as long as someone on Earth holds that person in their memory and a wildlife researcher in the Antarctica who may be the only person on Earth who has not yet succumbed to a man-made virus. On my second reading, I did a better job of tracking all the myriad connections between the many living dead and the still-alive wildlife researcher - however tangential those connections might be. What did not happen, however, is a change in my ultimate opinion for the book. I was definitely satisfied but nothing more.

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Author Information

Kevin Brockmeier Author Biography

Photo: Ben Krain

In addition to his most recent work, A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip, Kevin Brockmeier is the author of the novels The Illumination, The Brief History of the Dead, and The Truth About Celia; the story collections Things That Fall from the Sky and The View from the Seventh Layer; and the children's novels City of Names and Grooves: A Kind of Mystery. His work has been translated into seventeen languages. He has published his stories in such venues as The New Yorker, The Georgia Review, McSweeney's, Zoetrope, Tin House, The Oxford American, The Best American Short Stories, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and New Stories from the South. He has recieved the Borders Original Voices Award, three O. Henry Awards (one, a first prize), the PEN USA Award, a ...

... Full Biography

Name Pronunciation
Kevin Brockmeier: BROCK-my-er

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