The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier. Things are just a little better in the afterlife.

The brief history of the deadAn unusual novel. If there is a spoiler in this brief review I am not sure it matters because it is not the plot but the setting and delivery that make this novel work. One, in Brockmeier’s The Brief History of the Dead, the crossover to the afterlife is fantastical and deeply personal, but the afterlife itself is pretty much like this world. People still have their bodies, eat and work and love and sleep, but things are just a little better, enough to make it preferable to this world. A curious premise. Two, people only last in this afterlife as long as someone remembers them in this world, then they vanish, who knows where. Potent material for a story. Three, a deadly virus wipes out a near-future earth, except for one woman, Laura, stuck on a research station in Antartica. Wow. Just imagine how that reshapes the world of the afterlife. That is just the setup. There is no doubt where Laura’s battle to survive is going, but Brockmeier’s telling has you loving her and a handful of other characters. This novel is unlike any I have read, and that merits its recommendation.

2 Replies to “The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier. Things are just a little better in the afterlife.”

  1. I have a new, late-in-life interest in Orthodox Church cosmology, including the role of the dead in our lives. I keep running across books with imaginative ties between the dead and the living. I think it happens because of my interest, though I wonder if it says something about what interests the general Western book-reading culture.

    A very nice review. I’d like to learn how to get a book down to such a pith and still make the report interesting, as you do here.

  2. My book, Slow Reading, is slim. I took pride in its succinctness. Some readers appreciated this. Others seemed to feel short-changed. Oh well.

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