The Brief History of the Dead PDF Ã The Brief

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 From the Trade Paperback edition


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    How many people have you met in your life? How many have you glanced at on the street seen in a shop sat opposite and shared a smile with at a concert? Ten thousand? Twenty? Imagine that every person you ever met ever remembered has endured after death kept alive by the power of your memory This is the central idea around which Kevin Brockmeier has constructed a book of surprising beauty and sadness a novel different from most of what I read but rewarding and memorable Few books stick solidly in my memory Fewer genuinely hit me in the heart The Brief History of the Dead did both In the word that Brockmeier builds there is a than just this flesh bound existence Beyond life in our world there is an afterlife that is effectively a second chance to live again This post life life is a vast city populated by millions of people who have passed on from our world and who work live love and play among its streets and buildings Brockmeier’s afterlife is oddly mundane There are no big answers no resolutions People carry on and relationships fail and pain continues The issues of their lives their worries and frustrations come with them they are the same people they always were in an unfamiliar city populated by the dead The idea that the dead live on in our memories is a sentiment often heard at funerals and here Brockmeier makes it a reality While there are still people on earth who remember you then you continue your second life in the city When the final person who remembers you passes on then you disappear to no one knows where perhaps another afterlife or perhaps oblivion But this city of the dead is threatened at the same time as all human life on earth is endangered too A virus of terrifying murderousness is sweeping the globe killing billions and as each person dies so the people in the afterlife that they remembered have disappeared too While the dead wonder what is happening on Earth the still living Laura Byrd is part of an Antarctic expedition sponsored by Coca Cola staying in a remote hut with two of her colleagues As the virus ravages the world Laura’s companions decide to trek to a nearby base to look for other survivors When they fail to return Laura sets out after them As Laura begins her lonely struggle across the most inhospitable continent on earth both she and the tens of thousands who live in the city must start to come to terms with what could be not only the end of human civilisation but the end of the afterlife too Brockmeier’s book is moving and melancholy but also somehow uplifting at times despite its end of days feel His storytelling is deft and he handles the juxtaposition between Laura’s world of ice and ever threatening death with the bustle of the afterlife city There is a great deal of pathos here and some really quite beautiful writingI found Brockmeier’s afterlife both compelling and alluring despite its downsides who wouldn’t like to imagine their relatives living on in another world waiting for the chance to meet you again while enjoying a second full span of life? Even my coldly rational atheist’s heart warmed at the prospect of seeing my dear grandparents together again in such a place and The Brief History of the Dead left me with a sense of sadness and wonder that I have very rarely encountered in fiction