A writer's book for writers
I just finished Kevin Brockmeier’s story collection The View from the Seventh Layer. This is a book for writers, with language so careful and beautiful it’s as if the book was transcribed by monks — fitting given Brockmeier has an angel’s powers of observation. As for the subject matter of the stories, well, think Chris Adrian having coffee with Kelly Link in Italo Calvino‘s cafe, and you’ll have an idea. Just a few examples:
- A man finds God’s overcoat and discovers people’s prayers written on notes in the pockets.
- Strange silences descend upon a city, and the inhabitants realize the city itself is trying to talk to them in morse code
- A philosophy student learns why other philosophers stopped writing
I had to think about reading itself in a different way when I encountered “The Human Soul as a Rube Goldberg Device: A Choose Your Own Adventure Story,” and the story about the city’s morse code actually had me learning about morse code to figure out the city’s message. A book that makes you think? Imagine that.
See also Brockmeier’s The Brief History of the Dead, about a city populated by the souls of the dead, who exist only so long as the living remember them — but now there’s only one person left alive on Earth.