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Things That Fall from the Skyby Kevin Brockmeier
Synopses & Reviews
The protagonist of this story is named Lewis Winters. He is also its narrator, and he is also me. Lewis is thirty-four years old. His house is small and tidy and sparsely furnished, and the mirrors there return the image of a man inside of whom he is nowhere visible, a face within which he doesn't seem to belong: there is the turn of his lip, the knit of his brow, and his own familiar gaze: there is the promise of him, but where is he? Lewis longs for something not ugly, false, or confused. He chases the yellow-green bulbs of fireflies and cups them between his palms. He watches copter-seeds whirl from the limbs of great trees. He believes in the bare possibility of grace, in kindness and the memory of kindness, and in the fierce and sudden beauty of color. He sometimes believes that this is enough. On quiet evenings, Lewis drives past houses and tall buildings into the flat yellow grasslands that embrace the city. The black road tapers to a point, and the fields sway in the wind, and the sight of the sun dropping red past the hood of his car fills him with sadness and wonder. Lewis lives alone. He sleeps poorly. He writes fairy tales. This is not one of them.
The lover, now absent, of the protagonist of this story is named Caroline Mitchell. In the picture framed on his desk, she stands gazing into the arms of a small tree, a mittened hand at her eyes, lit by the afternoon sun as if through a screen of water. She looks puzzled and eager, as though the wind had rustled her name through the branches; in a moment, a leaf will tumble onto her forehead. Caroline is watchful and sincere, shy yet earnest. She seldom speaks, and when she does her lips scarcely part, so that sometimes Lewis must listen closely to distinguish her voice from the cycling of her breath. Her eyes are a miracle-a startled blue with frail green spokes bound by a ring of black-and he is certain that if he could draw his reflection from them, he would discover there a face neither foreign nor lost. Caroline sleeps face down, her knees curled to her chest: she sleeps often and with no sheets or blankets. Her hair is brown, her skin pale. Her smile is vibrant but brief, like a bubble that lasts only as long as the air is still. She is eighteen months old.
A few questions deserve answer, perhaps, before I continue. So then: The walls behind which I'm writing are the walls of my home-the only thing padded is the furniture, the only thing barred the wallpaper. Caroline is both alive and (I imagine-I haven't seen her now in many days) well. And I haven't read Nabokov-not ever, not once.
All this said, it's time we met, my love and I.
* * *
It was a hopeful day of early summer, and a slight, fresh breeze tangled through the air. The morning sun shone from telephone wires and the windshields of resting cars, and high clouds unfolded like the tails of galloping horses. Lewis stood before a handsome dark-brick house, flattening his shirt into his pants. The house seemed to conceal its true dimensions behind the planes and angles of its front wall. An apron of hedges stretched beneath its broad lower windows, and a flagstone walk, edged with black soil, elbowed from the driveway to the entrance. He stepped to the front porch and pressed the doorbell.
"Just a minute," called a faint voice.
Lewis turned to look along the street, resting his hand against a wooden pillar. A chain of lawn
An award-winning author presents a debut collection of short fiction that features "These Hands" about a male baby-sitter and his relationship with the young girl in his care, "A Day in the Life of Half of Rumpelstilskin" that continues the tale of the famous imp, "The Ceiling," and "The Jesus Stories." Reprint.
Weaving together loss and anxiety with fantastic elements and literary sleight-of-hand, Kevin Brockmeier’s richly imagined Things That Fall from the Sky views the nagging realities of the world through a hopeful lens.
In the deftly told “These Hands,” a man named Lewis recounts his time babysitting a young girl and his inconsolable sense of loss after she is wrenched away. In “Apples,” a boy comes to terms with the complex world of adults, his first pangs of love, and the bizarre death of his Bible coach. “The Jesus Stories” examines a people trying to accelerate the Second Coming by telling the story of Christ in every possible way. And in the O. Henry Award winning “The Ceiling,” a man’s marriage begins to disintegrate after the sky starts slowly descending.
Achingly beautiful and deceptively simple, Things That Fall from the Sky defies gravity as one of the most original story collections seen in recent years.
About the Author
Kevin Brockmeier is the author of The Truth About Celia and a children’s book, City of Names. He has published stories in The Georgia Review, The Carolina Quarterly, and McSweeney’s, and his story “Space” from Things That Fall from the Sky has been selected for The Best American Short Stories. He has received the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award, an Italo Calvino Short Fiction Award, a James Michener-Paul Engle Fellowship, two O’Henry Awards (one, a first prize), and most recently, a NEA grant. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
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