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August 4, 2020 | Rome, Italy

The Brief History of the Dead

By | 2018-03-21T18:29:20+01:00 February 1st, 2007|Recent Reviews|

By Kevin Brockmeier

Pantheon Books, 2006. 252 pages.

Brockmeier wrote children’s fables before turning to novels, which may account for his tender, unintimidating relationship with dusk. The story is this: after death, people migrate to a metropolis whose routines depend on living memories — “the city was not heaven, and it was not hell, and it was certainly not the world.”

Laura Byrd, part of an Antarctic research team funded by Coca-Cola, is the last survivor of a plague known as “The Blinks.” The dead city is the sum of her recollections. But she’s dying in the snow, and the sound of her slowing heart has a ripple effect. As she’s ovecome by delirium, the city — her city — mutates, decomposes. Coke and multinationals (which own Antarctica) take a bashing, but that’s not Brockmeier’s point.

Memory is a life of its own. Though derivative credit is due to Dante, Poe and Ambrose Bierce, Brockmeier creates a moody Limbo all his own.

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