The Truth About Celia
By Kevin Brockmeier
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780375421358, 240pp.)
Publication Date: July 8, 2003
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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From the award-winning author of Things That Fall from the Sky, a richly nuanced and deeply moving novel about the disappearance of a young girl, as told by her devastated father.
Celia is seven years old on the day she goes missing. Her father, Christopher, is giving a tour of their historic house; her mother, Janet, is at an orchestra rehearsal. Celia is outside playing. She rides her bicycle. She throws a rubber ball against the roof. She disappears.
A writer of fantasy and science fiction, Christopher finds himself drawn into a grief-induced world of wishful fantasy in which Celia still exists. Plunging into his work to help him cope with her disappearance, he writes of its effects from the points of view of the people who are still haunted by her absence: Janet, the policeman who is in charge of the case, and Christopher himself—each voice contributing to the heart-wrenching picture of a town subtly, but lastingly, changed.
The Truth About Celia is a novel of remarkable understanding—an extraordinary exploration of profound loss and inconsolable grief.
Kevin Brockmeier is the author of Things That Fall from the Sky and of a children’s novel, City of Names. He has published stories in The Georgia Review, The Carolina Quarterly, and McSweeney’s. His story “Space” from Things That Fall from the Sky has been selected for The Best American Short Stories, and his story “The Green Children from The Truth About Celia has been selected for The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. He has received the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award, an Italo Calvino Short Fiction Award, a James Michener–Paul Engle Fellowship, two O. Henry Awards (one of which was a first prize), and, most recently, an NEA grant. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“Emotional, heartbreaking and beautifully styled.” --San Francisco Chronicle
“Devastating and dazzling; in its painful fusion of pathos, fantasy and—ultimately—realism, Brockmeier’s heartbreaking book is reminiscent of The Lovely Bones."--Time Out
“Together, the eight stories, ranging from psychological realism to science fiction to supernatural fantasy, fall somewhere between a linked collection and a full-fledge novel, and their unvarying gracefulness takes some of the bite out of the sadness–perhaps to much. They go down more easily than, given the subject, they ought to.”
The New York Times Book Review
“Fierce and tightly imagined. . . . The Truth About Celia has all the austere ache of a cello suite. . . . [Brockmeier] proves himself a master of compassionate reach.” --The Boston Globe
“Affecting. . . . A dazzling fantasia on grief and time.” --Entertainment Weekly
“Each sentence is an elegy–a celebration of every heartbreaking detail that makes life beautiful and an exacting portrait of the bone-aching, irredeemable despair of loss. Every scene is a heart that throbs with both glorious, garrulous joy and profound, insurmountable sorrow. Like all of Kevin’s work, this book is exquisitely crafted and deeply evocative, and as a reader I am once again awed and moved to both desperation and delight.” --Thisbe Nissen, author of The Good People of New York
“A startlingly imaginative and empathetic work.” --The Miami Herald
“Brilliant. . . . beautifully written and relentlessly gripping. . . . The psychological devastation suffered by Janet and Christopher . . . is made excruciatingly tangible in [this] remarkable novel.” --Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Lyrical, magical, achingly bittersweet. . . . The mesmerizing whisper of Brockmeier’s prose [turns] skeptical readers into believers. The gentle, rolling pulse of these sentences make elegiac epiphanies out of Christopher’s grief-borne stream-of-consciousness. . . . For evoking this bleak estate with unflinching accuracy and honesty, Kevin Brockmeier deserves our praise.” --Newsday
“A compelling and intricate study of loss and acceptance.” --The Baltimore Sun
"Imagine I'm standing beside you in the bookstore. I'm putting this book in your hands. I loved The Truth About Celia: you should buy this book, take it home, and read it at once." --Kelly Link, author of Stranger Things Happen
“The gorgeous language and wealth of detail . . . elicit[s] from readers overwhelming feelings that lead to a catharsis. --The Commercial Appeal (Memphis)
“Outstanding. . . . Eloquently describes the pain of losing a child and the search for meaning in resistant fact and more resilient imagination. I highly recommend this book.” --John Hammond, The San Antonio Express-News
“Some of the most moving writing in the English language. . . . The pleasure of Brockmeier’s novel–and it is a deep pleasure indeed–comes from an excruciatingly poignant exploration of the effect of Brooks’ loss. . . . Fellow writers can only envy Brockmeier’s felicity with prose, his lyricism that aspires to great music. The Truth About Celia is modest in size but not in scope, and the magnificent prose lingers in memory long after the book is closed.” --Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
“Wrenching . . . You may never read a more beautifully written novel than this one.” --The Arkansas Times