The Brief History of the Dead
By Kevin Brockmeier
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780375423697, 272pp.)
Publication Date: February 14, 2006
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“Remember me when I’m gone”
just took on a whole new meaning.
The City is inhabited by the recently departed, who reside there only as long as they remain in the memories of the living. Among the current residents of this afterlife are Luka Sims, who prints the only newspaper in the City, with news from the other side; Coleman Kinzler, a vagrant who speaks the cautionary words of God; and Marion and Phillip Byrd, who find themselves falling in love again after decades of marriage.
On Earth, Laura Byrd is trapped by extreme weather in an Antarctic research station. She’s alone and unable to contact the outside world: her radio is down and the power is failing. She’s running out of supplies as quickly as she’s running out of time.
Kevin Brockmeier interweaves these two stories in a spellbinding tale of human connections across boundaries of all kinds. The Brief History of the Dead is the work of a remarkably gifted writer.
Kevin Brockmeier is the author of the novels The Brief History of the Dead and The Truth About Celia, the story collection Things That Fall from the Sky, and the children's novels City of Names and Grooves: A Kind of Mystery. He has published stories in The New Yorker, The Georgia Review, McSweeney's, The Oxford American, The Best American Short Stories, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and The O. Henry Prize Stories anthology. He has received the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award, an Italo Calvino Short Fiction Award, a James Michener-Paul Engle Fellowship, three O. Henry Awards (one, a first prize), and an NEA grant. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“The Brief History of the Dead is a brilliant high-wire act, at turns terrifying, wise, and humane. Kevin Brockmeier builds an intricate labyrinth, then guides us through with wit and aplomb.”
–Colson Whitehead, author of The Colossus of New York
“Kevin Brockmeier’s The Brief History of the Dead is moving and disquieting, a ‘futuristic’ novel that is really an elegy for how we live now.”
–Kevin Baker, author of Paradise Alley