Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What We're Reading: The View from the Seventh Layer

The View from the Seventh Layer is a new collection of short stories written by Kevin Brockmeier. I might have completely missed this one, actually, had I not fallen in love with his previous novel, The Brief History of the Dead (See Review).

Brockmeier is genre-bending in his ability to take literary fiction and lightly season it with science fiction. He introduces elements of the supernatural into everyday life in a way that is haunting and beautiful. In the new collection we see a mute man whose parakeets mimic the sounds of his life, a world where no one looks each other in the eye, a man who buys a jacket that shows him the prayers of passers-by, a year when complete silence falls on Earth in short bursts, and more. In a blast from the past, he slips a choose your own adventure story (remember those?) in the middle. It's not standard fare - at first I was annoyed and then I relaxed and said to myself, "Oh, right, I get it. Brilliant."

If you're looking for another author who mixes the extraordinary with the quotidian, see Anne Ursu. They complement each other nicely.

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