The View From the Seventh Layer

Kevin Brockmeier

Kevin Brockmeier’s novel The Brief History of the Dead has become a sort of cult classic in only a couple of years (there are two kinds of people in the world: those who’ve read it and those who haven’t; don’t be one of the latter). His new collection of short stories ripples with wonder as he combines the best of speculative fiction premises with lush language, quirky characters and thoughtful, provocative ideas to create his literary fables. His “magical realism” is very firmly rooted in reality. What happens if trafficking with the devil leads a preacher to soul-stirring sermons? Or if looking someone in the eye causes you to lose your soul? The title story, both sad and funny, takes as one of its plot points the strange device of actually telling the truth in yearbook inscriptions.