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1 Hawthorne Literature- A to Z

The Illumination: A Novel

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The Illumination: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780375425318
ISBN10: 0375425314
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Awards

Staff Pick

What if suddenly you could actually see the pain of others?  What if suddenly you couldn't stop seeing the pain of others? In Kevin Brockmeier's latest, that is precisely the dilemma in which the entire world finds itself. Every cut, every bruise, every injury, surgery site, scar, wound, mass, and sickness is plainly visible to everyone. And not just visible: Every location of pain shines out a bright, white light which illuminates the nature, seriousness, and shame of every malady man carries. "It was shameful, her pain, appalling." Brockmeier mines the depths of the vulnerability and humiliation of being enslaved in a less than perfect body. He showcases the emotional turmoil that goes along with illness and lifts the veil on how that may play out if revealed to one and all. Fantastic.
Recommended by Dianah, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

What if our pain was the most beautiful thing about us?

From best-selling and award-winning author Kevin Brockmeier: a new novel of stunning artistry and imagination about the wounds we bear and the light that radiates from us all.

At 8:17 on a Friday night, the Illumination commences. Every wound begins to shine, every bruise to glow and shimmer. And in the aftermath of a fatal car accident, a private journal of love notes, written by a husband to his wife, passes into the keeping of a hospital patient and from there through the hands of five other suffering people, touching each of them uniquely.

I love the soft blue veins on your wrist. I love your lopsided smile. I love watching TV and shelling sunflower seeds with you.

The six recipients — a data analyst, a photojournalist, a schoolchild, a missionary, a writer, and a street vendor — inhabit an acutely observed, beautifully familiar yet particularly strange universe, as only Kevin Brockmeier could imagine it: a world in which human pain is expressed as illumination, so that one's wounds glitter, fluoresce, and blaze with light. As we follow the journey of the book from stranger to stranger, we come to understand how intricately and brilliantly they are connected, in all their human injury and experience.

Review:

"In Brockmeier's spectacular latest (after The View from the Seventh Layer), pain manifests itself as visible light after a mysterious event called 'the Illumination,' revealing humanity to be mortally wounded, and yet Brockmeier finds in these overlapping, storylike narratives, beauty amid the suffering. Jason Williford, a photojournalist, loses his wife in a traffic accident and fixates on a troubled teenage girl who teaches him to cultivate pain 'in a dreamlike vesper.' Chuck Carter, a battered and bullied neighbor boy, steals a journal of love notes from Jason's house, and later gives the journal to door-knocking evangelist Ryan Shifrin, who found his faith after watching his younger sister die from cancer. Telescoping into his decades of service to the church, Ryan wonders at the civil strife and disasters that 'produce a holocaust of light.' Through accounts of quotidian suffering depict humanity's quiet desperation — the agony of a severed thumb, the torture of chronic mouth ulcers — Brockmeier's careful reading of his characters' hearts and minds gives readers an inspiring take on suffering and the often fleeting nature of connection. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Review:

"By the end, I imagined that if I tore a page from the novel itself, the binding would give off a sharp and penetrating light." NPR's All Things Considered

Review:

"Spectacular . . . achingly beautiful . . . Underscoring (his characters') conflicts is the haunting, harrowing, and deeply hypnotic pull of Brockmeier's lush language, where even the direst pain becomes poetic." Boston Globe

Review:

"The depth of this writer's scrutiny makes his fiction glow." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"Some writers show us the world we live in. Brockmeier shows us, instead, the one we might live in if only we had a little more imagination." Los Angeles Times

Synopsis:

What if our pain was the most beautiful thing about us?

 

From best-selling and award-winning author Kevin Brockmeier: a new novel of stunning artistry and imagination about the wounds we bear and the light that radiates from us all.

 

At 8:17 on a Friday night, the Illumination commences. Every wound begins to shine, every bruise to glow and shimmer. And in the aftermath of a fatal car accident, a private journal of love notes, written by a husband to his wife, passes into the keeping of a hospital patient and from there through the hands of five other suffering people, touching each of them uniquely.

 

I love the soft blue veins on your wrist. I love your lopsided smile. I love watching TV and shelling sunflower seeds with you.

 

The six recipients—a data analyst, a photojournalist, a schoolchild, a missionary, a writer, and a street vendor—inhabit an acutely observed, beautifully familiar yet particularly strange universe, as only Kevin Brockmeier could imagine it: a world in which human pain is expressed as illumination, so that one’s wounds glitter, fluoresce, and blaze with light. As we follow the journey of the book from stranger to stranger, we come to understand how intricately and brilliantly they are connected, in all their human injury and experience.

About the Author

Kevin Brockmeier is the author of the novels The Brief History of the Dead and The Truth About Celia, the children's novels City of Names and Grooves: A Kind of Mystery, and the story collections Things That Fall from the Sky and The View from the Seventh Layer. His new novel, The Illumination, is forthcoming in February 2011. His work has been translated into fifteen languages, and he has published his stories in such venues as The New Yorker, The Georgia Review, McSweeney's, Zoetrope, The Oxford American, The Best American Short Stories, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and New Stories from the South. He has received the Borders Original Voices Award, three O. Henry Awards (one, a first prize), the PEN USA Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an NEA Grant. Recently he was named one of Granta magazine's Best Young American Novelists. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was raised.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Nancy S, January 25, 2012 (view all comments by Nancy S)
As a librarian I read a lot of books - but I have to say The Illumination is the best book I read last year. The writing is astonishing and the subject matter important. I would nominate it for any award that recognizes unforgettable fiction.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
Katherine Bailey, January 3, 2012 (view all comments by Katherine Bailey)
I don't think I've ever cared about a set of characters as much as I did reading "The Illumination." Brockmeier explores the lives of these characters by studying their pain, physical and emotional, and the result is something transcendent and utterly beautiful. I couldn't help but tell every person in my life to read this book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
Brian Medford, January 2, 2012 (view all comments by Brian Medford)
The Illumination is an experience, a phenomenon, a worldwide shared moment when your pain, your hurt and your sadness radiates with miraculous light for all to see. Then there’s the journal. The written love story from a husband to his wife.changes the lives of six individuals as they pass it along and experience the glowing hurt and hope that shines from it’s pages. Kevin Brockmeier is a wonderful writer and this book is illuminating. Best of the year.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 4 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375425318
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Brockmeier, Kevin
Publisher:
Pantheon
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
20110201
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
8.55 x 5.9 x 1.08 in .9 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Illumination: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Pantheon Books - English 9780375425318 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

What if suddenly you could actually see the pain of others?  What if suddenly you couldn't stop seeing the pain of others? In Kevin Brockmeier's latest, that is precisely the dilemma in which the entire world finds itself. Every cut, every bruise, every injury, surgery site, scar, wound, mass, and sickness is plainly visible to everyone. And not just visible: Every location of pain shines out a bright, white light which illuminates the nature, seriousness, and shame of every malady man carries. "It was shameful, her pain, appalling." Brockmeier mines the depths of the vulnerability and humiliation of being enslaved in a less than perfect body. He showcases the emotional turmoil that goes along with illness and lifts the veil on how that may play out if revealed to one and all. Fantastic.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In Brockmeier's spectacular latest (after The View from the Seventh Layer), pain manifests itself as visible light after a mysterious event called 'the Illumination,' revealing humanity to be mortally wounded, and yet Brockmeier finds in these overlapping, storylike narratives, beauty amid the suffering. Jason Williford, a photojournalist, loses his wife in a traffic accident and fixates on a troubled teenage girl who teaches him to cultivate pain 'in a dreamlike vesper.' Chuck Carter, a battered and bullied neighbor boy, steals a journal of love notes from Jason's house, and later gives the journal to door-knocking evangelist Ryan Shifrin, who found his faith after watching his younger sister die from cancer. Telescoping into his decades of service to the church, Ryan wonders at the civil strife and disasters that 'produce a holocaust of light.' Through accounts of quotidian suffering depict humanity's quiet desperation — the agony of a severed thumb, the torture of chronic mouth ulcers — Brockmeier's careful reading of his characters' hearts and minds gives readers an inspiring take on suffering and the often fleeting nature of connection. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Review" by , "By the end, I imagined that if I tore a page from the novel itself, the binding would give off a sharp and penetrating light."
"Review" by , "Spectacular . . . achingly beautiful . . . Underscoring (his characters') conflicts is the haunting, harrowing, and deeply hypnotic pull of Brockmeier's lush language, where even the direst pain becomes poetic."
"Review" by , "The depth of this writer's scrutiny makes his fiction glow."
"Review" by , "Some writers show us the world we live in. Brockmeier shows us, instead, the one we might live in if only we had a little more imagination."
"Synopsis" by , What if our pain was the most beautiful thing about us?

 

From best-selling and award-winning author Kevin Brockmeier: a new novel of stunning artistry and imagination about the wounds we bear and the light that radiates from us all.

 

At 8:17 on a Friday night, the Illumination commences. Every wound begins to shine, every bruise to glow and shimmer. And in the aftermath of a fatal car accident, a private journal of love notes, written by a husband to his wife, passes into the keeping of a hospital patient and from there through the hands of five other suffering people, touching each of them uniquely.

 

I love the soft blue veins on your wrist. I love your lopsided smile. I love watching TV and shelling sunflower seeds with you.

 

The six recipients—a data analyst, a photojournalist, a schoolchild, a missionary, a writer, and a street vendor—inhabit an acutely observed, beautifully familiar yet particularly strange universe, as only Kevin Brockmeier could imagine it: a world in which human pain is expressed as illumination, so that one’s wounds glitter, fluoresce, and blaze with light. As we follow the journey of the book from stranger to stranger, we come to understand how intricately and brilliantly they are connected, in all their human injury and experience.

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