Vintage Contemporaries

The Brief History of the Dead

Publisher: Vintage

From Kevin Brockmeier, one of this generation's most inventive young writers, comes a striking new novel about death, life, and the mysterious place in between.

 

The City is inhabited by those who have departed Earth but are still remembered by the living. They will reside in this afterlife until they are completely forgotten. But the City is shrinking, and the residents clearing out. Some of the holdouts, like Luka Sims, who produces the City’s only newspaper, are wondering what exactly is going on. Others, like Coleman Kinzler, believe it is the beginning of the end. Meanwhile, Laura Byrd is trapped in an Antarctic research station, her supplies are running low, her radio finds only static, and the power is failing. With little choice, Laura sets out across the ice to look for help, but time is running out. Kevin Brockmeier alternates these two storylines to create a lyrical and haunting story about love, loss and the power of memory.

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CHAPTER ONE

THE CITY

When the blind man arrived in the city, he claimed that he had traveled across a desert of living sand. First he had died, he said, and then–snap!–the desert. He told the story to everyone who would listen, bobbing his head to follow the sound of their footsteps. Showers of...
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READING GUIDE

The introduction, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of Kevin Brockmeier’s brilliantly imagined apocalyptic novel The Brief History of the Dead.

1. What makes the premise of The Brief History of the Dead...

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PRAISE FOR

“Thrilling. . . . Inventive. . . . Deftly told. . . . Brockmeier does a wonderful job of conjuring up the dead.” –The Washington Post Book World “Brilliant. . . . Brockmeier’s characters are wonderful, and his images are dazzling.”–Detroit Free Press“Extraordinary. . . . Breathtaking. . . . A gracefully written story that blends fantasy, philosophical speculation, adventure and crystalline moments of compassion.”–Milwaukee Journal Sentinel“Striking. . . . Brave. . . . Deliciously disquieting. . . . The Brief History of the Dead will stay alive in the memories of readers for years to come.”–The Atlanta Journal-Constitution