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The View from the Seventh Layer

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The View from the Seventh Layer Cover

ISBN13: 9780375425301
ISBN10: 0375425306
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Staff Pick

Brockmeier's prose is at once fanciful and meditative. This new collection of stories confirms his stature as one of America's most audacious fabulists.
Recommended by Gerry, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Kevin Brockmeier — award-winning author of The Brief History of the Dead — has been widely praised for the richness of his imagination, the lyrical grace and playfulness of his language, and the empathic emotional complexity of his storytelling. And this dazzling collection once again affirms his place as one of the most creative and compassionate writers of his generation.

In the haunting title story, a young, asocial woman remembers the oddly honest things she wrote in her high school classmates' yearbooks and contemplates her scarred life, imagining an escape with an apparition she calls the Entity. In "Father John Melby and the Ghost of Amy Elizabeth," a formerly dull and turgid pastor is touched by a spirit that turns his sermons into crowd-pleasers — that is, until he discovers his inspiration is a little less than divine. "The Human Soul as a Rube Goldberg Device" is a gorgeous homage to the classic, young readers' choose-your-own-adventure novels. But this one is for grown-ups who can navigate through imagery and dead ends, and toward a resolution that only Kevin Brockmeier could have invented. From the fantastical to the concrete, the range of this collection is breathtaking. It moves fluidly, finding beauty in the quiet, often overlooked corners of the world.

By turns daring and moving, The View from the Seventh Layer is crafted with the remarkable voice and vision that have become hallmarks of Brockmeier's acclaimed fiction.

Review:

"Brockmeier follows up the acclaimed The Brief History of the Dead with a collection of 13 stories possessing the enchantment of his two children's books, but with adult twists. In the title story, Olivia lives in a 'little red cottage' on an unnamed island and sells maps, umbrellas and candies to the tourists. She also sells prophylactics and believes that, in a glorious moment, she was abducted and examined by an alien 'Entity' who came from the seventh layer of the universe. In a more O. Henryesque story, 'The Lives of the Philosophers,' Jacob, a philosophy grad student, is trying to understand why certain great philosophers ceased to do philosophy. He finds the answer when his girlfriend, Audrey, becomes pregnant with a child he doesn't want. In 'The Air Is Full of Little Spots,' the narrator, a presumably Afghan tribal woman, writes of her tribe's belief that 'we see the world only from the back,' but at moments, by the grace of God, 'the world turns its face to us.' While many characters reach such moments of clarity, the stories often falter when they do. At their best, though, the tales show Brockmeier's mastery of the tricky intersection between fantasy and realism." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Kevin Brockmeier's writing has a light, magical quality that makes it a joy to read. Playful and uninhibited, imaginative and gentle, he's an American Italo Calvino." Lydia Millet, author of Oh Pure and Radiant Heart

Review:

"Brockmeier is one of my very favorite writers. What amazes me most about him isn't his daunting technical chops or his Millhauser-sized imagination, but that in his finest moments he combines these strengths with a deeper sense of the joys and sorrows of life. These stories are wise and touching, not merely full of delightful surprises but full of heart." Stewart O'Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster

Review:

"These are beautiful and ethereal stories by an unsettling writer. Brockmeier is a major talent." Kevin Baker, author of Strivers Row

Review:

"Nobody has ever written stories like this. Who else could transpose Chekov into outer space, write a Choose Your Own Adventure story for the human soul, or tell the story of a man's life through the twittering chorus of his parakeets? Each of these stories contains a sentence that will blast open the walled-off regions of your heart like dynamite." Karen Russell, author of St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

Review:

"I love Kevin Brockmeier's work, not only for its daring innovation and its boundary-defying marriage of the real and the fantastic, but also because of the deep feeling and compassion he brings to the lives of his varies characters. He is one of the best short story writers in America." Dan Chaon, author of Among the Missing and You Remind Me of Me

Review:

"I am totally enthralled, mesmerized, and jealous of The View from the Seventh Layer. These curious, fragile worlds drew me in like few stories published today. This collection's an instant classic." George Singleton, author of Novel and Drowning in Gruel

About the Author

Kevin Brockmeier is the author of The Brief History of the Dead, The Truth About Celia, Things That Fall from the Sky, and two children's novels. He has taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His stories have appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, McSweeney's and Oxford American, and have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories, and Granta's Best of Young American Novelists. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Larry Robinson, October 17, 2008 (view all comments by Larry Robinson)
Kevin Brockmeier has quickly become one of my favorite writers. This book of short stories includes the best elements of A Brief History of the Dead and The Truth About Celia. He is a very imaginative writer whose work I return to regularly.
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(8 of 11 readers found this comment helpful)
titianlibrarian, August 8, 2008 (view all comments by titianlibrarian)
Wow. Check it out, especially "Fable containing a reflection the size of a match head in its pupil." It starts out:

"Once there was a city where people did not look one another in the eye. It had been that way for as long as anyone could remember. Old married couples lowered their heads like swans as they sat on park benches together. Young mothers stared sweetly at the folds of their babies' necks. Whenever two people met in conversation, each would rest his gaze on the blank surface of the other's shirt, and though occasionally, in a fit of daring, the most intimate of lovers might go so far as to watch each other's lips move, to venture any higher was considered the gravest of social transgressions."

The stories are all beautiful and haunting. I would reread this on a chilly fall night with an afghan over my feet and a cup of tea on the table. Or I would curl up in bed with a lover and read him one story a night before we laid down to sleep. However you read them, they each deserve a moment of quiet consideration before you allow your mind to gallop on to other matters.
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(1 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
hermionebadger, May 16, 2008 (view all comments by hermionebadger)
I've followed the writing of Kevin Brockmeier closely over the last couple of years. At first, I was amazed at his restraint, his eye for nuance, and the delicate ways that he shows us the world. I am, however, very disappointed with "The View from the Seventh Layer." The language is beautiful, as it always is with Mr. Brockmeier, but this time around, I wanted something more. A character, perhaps, whose life is something other than a reflection in a shady, quiet pool. I felt I couldn't get to know anyone in any of these stories, as everything they said or did seemed filtered through the back end of a fairy tale, filtered again and then again and again until all that's left is an imprint or a painful cliche. Why must every story be a far away and ominous version of the third person limited? Why does it seem that, after "A Brief History of the Dead" and "Things that Fall from the Sky" (both of which I loved) Kevin Brockmeier has reduced himself to a classically trained metaphorist who so desperately wishes to be Jorge Luis Borges?

Unlike his previous works, Brockmeier has given us zero characters that feel real enough for his readers to relate to. I felt like I was floating around in a cloud somewhere, looking into a crystal ball, and not really understanding the actions that I'd seen. Can a mute be heard in a city of song? Apparently, but who cares when the city of song has no hiccups, no real problems at all, and its citizens are so naive to the idea of misfortune that a man with no voice is automatically perceived to be deaf? With most of these stories, I felt like there was some deep, trecherous meaning the author was trying probe, and that I must be missing it, must be looking right past. I learned however, after several rereads, that these deep meanings were really more like subtle jabs at something too vast to be explained--which can be executed well. Brockmeier, however, missed the mark, the reason being a lack of recognizable characters and points of view that range from hazy to vague to completely absent.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780375425301
Author:
Brockmeier, Kevin
Publisher:
Pantheon
Subject:
Short Stories (single author)
Subject:
Stories (single author)
Copyright:
Edition Description:
First
Publication Date:
20080318
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.46x6.00x1.09 in. .97 lbs.

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The View from the Seventh Layer Used Hardcover
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Product details 288 pages Pantheon Books - English 9780375425301 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Brockmeier's prose is at once fanciful and meditative. This new collection of stories confirms his stature as one of America's most audacious fabulists.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Brockmeier follows up the acclaimed The Brief History of the Dead with a collection of 13 stories possessing the enchantment of his two children's books, but with adult twists. In the title story, Olivia lives in a 'little red cottage' on an unnamed island and sells maps, umbrellas and candies to the tourists. She also sells prophylactics and believes that, in a glorious moment, she was abducted and examined by an alien 'Entity' who came from the seventh layer of the universe. In a more O. Henryesque story, 'The Lives of the Philosophers,' Jacob, a philosophy grad student, is trying to understand why certain great philosophers ceased to do philosophy. He finds the answer when his girlfriend, Audrey, becomes pregnant with a child he doesn't want. In 'The Air Is Full of Little Spots,' the narrator, a presumably Afghan tribal woman, writes of her tribe's belief that 'we see the world only from the back,' but at moments, by the grace of God, 'the world turns its face to us.' While many characters reach such moments of clarity, the stories often falter when they do. At their best, though, the tales show Brockmeier's mastery of the tricky intersection between fantasy and realism." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Kevin Brockmeier's writing has a light, magical quality that makes it a joy to read. Playful and uninhibited, imaginative and gentle, he's an American Italo Calvino."
"Review" by , "Brockmeier is one of my very favorite writers. What amazes me most about him isn't his daunting technical chops or his Millhauser-sized imagination, but that in his finest moments he combines these strengths with a deeper sense of the joys and sorrows of life. These stories are wise and touching, not merely full of delightful surprises but full of heart."
"Review" by , "These are beautiful and ethereal stories by an unsettling writer. Brockmeier is a major talent."
"Review" by , "Nobody has ever written stories like this. Who else could transpose Chekov into outer space, write a Choose Your Own Adventure story for the human soul, or tell the story of a man's life through the twittering chorus of his parakeets? Each of these stories contains a sentence that will blast open the walled-off regions of your heart like dynamite."
"Review" by , "I love Kevin Brockmeier's work, not only for its daring innovation and its boundary-defying marriage of the real and the fantastic, but also because of the deep feeling and compassion he brings to the lives of his varies characters. He is one of the best short story writers in America."
"Review" by , "I am totally enthralled, mesmerized, and jealous of The View from the Seventh Layer. These curious, fragile worlds drew me in like few stories published today. This collection's an instant classic."
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