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The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier

The Illumination

by Kevin Brockmeier (Author)

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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
This book lacks a lot. I enjoyed the story being told through short stories as really it wasn't about the people so much as the event. A book like this means it should have some insight into society or the world. I may not have been intelligent enough to derive anything more than life goes on when things change and people still only see what they want to. I liked the first couple of sections but after that it lost any resemblance of a concise plot. From then it added too much too quickly without much explanation. It essentially follows a book of love letters but really the plot skips so much there really is no clear path to an end. An end which left me asking why? why did the book end this way it has no connection to the remainder of the story which was slightly disappointing to say the least. ( )
  sarahzilkastarke | Nov 20, 2013 |
Interwoven short stories following an event where all pain shines with light. A journal of daily love notes written by a husband to his wife follows each character, becoming more worn until it is destroyed. Very nice writing but sometimes a but dense and couldn't finish th self harm story. ( )
  travel.bug | Jul 17, 2013 |
A beautifully rendered book, although I found it unsatisfying in the end. Perhaps because the primary link between what amounts to a collection of short stories is an object and not a person, the through-line wasn't gratifying enough. The premise--that people might suddenly see one another's pain--failed for me because it didn't result in any moral movement. People perhaps understood one another better as a result, but did not love better. I do appreciate the idea that simple love has large ramifications. I just wish the love that the journal represented was a bit more fully realized. ( )
  ElizabethAndrew | May 13, 2013 |
WOW. Powerful, intriguing, gripping - I just finished it, and I think I want to start over and read it again right now. ( )
  DebbieBspinner | Apr 12, 2013 |
I really enjoyed the topic of this book more than anything else..the idea is that somehow our wounds-be them cuts, bruises, or cancerous tumors radiate light...some feel it's beautiful and some try to disguise it. The novel explores a few different perspectives of people finding out then living with this oddity, which is what becomes termed "The Illumination" itself. We meet a photographer, an author, a young boy who refuses to speak, an evangelist, and a homeless bookseller as well as all of the people they interact with. The writing is above average but I felt at times he needed to continue with a person or chapter before ending it. I did like the way their lives intersect or I should say some of the aspects of their lives if not themselves specifically.

When books like this succeed, they do so by virtue of their ease in combining a fantastical like situation in the world with enough reality to make it a believable scenario and offer insights into humanity by look at the way people might (again, realistically) deal with something of this bizarre nature. I think Brockmeier succeeded with this in a number of ways but was lacking in a few areas, especially with the first section. However, I did find the way he carried an aspect of the first section, a journal where a wife has written down every thing her husband revealed he loved about her, into the remainder of the novel. It comes off as very honest and sweet, not shmaltzy as one might think.

I found this novel to be creative and insightful, well worth reading. I did not, however, find it life changing and absolutely brilliant, which is what I reserve 5/5 stars for. I am probably a harsh critic but not all books are written and read equally. Also, fyi this novel reminded me slightly of Douglas Coupland's Girlfriend in a Coma, another novel I really enjoyed.

Some memorable quotes:

ppg 15-16 "Were we outlived by our pain? How long did it cling to this world?"

(VIA WHITTAKER CHAMBERS) pg. 43 "The reality cuts across our minds like a wound whose edges crave to heal, but cannot. Thus, one of the great sins, perhaps *the* great sin, is to say: It will heal; it has healed; there is no wound; there is something more important than this wound. There is nothing more important than this wound.

pg. 127 "Chuck would be an orphan with the sad parts included."

pg. 150 "...she read the verse printed at the top. 'Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun. Ecclesiastes 11:7.' 'Well, that's fine and all," Felenthia said, 'but you're forgetting Ecclesiastes 11:8: 'If a man lives many years, let him rejoices in them all, but let him remember the days of darkness for they shall be many. All that comes is vanity.'"

ppg 184-185 "Her signature slowly changed beneath her fingers, rearranging itself, purifying itself, plunge by plunge and bend by bend until it was no longer a set of letters at all but a curious abstract design. It was like the pattern she had once watched a moth draw with its wings in the condensation of her bathroom mirror. She remembered switching off the lights and opening the window so that it would fly away and the, when it did, calling Wallace in to see the strange hieroglyph of swesps and flickers it had left behind.

'I bet it was trying to communicate with you,' he mused. 'Maybe it was dad, reincarnated as a moth, and the only way he knew how to get in touch with us was to write something with his wings.' He looked more carefully at the mark. 'Except he's illiterate'"

pg. 188 "Esque-ish. It's a word me and Coop came up with. First esque then ish. Something that reminds you of something that reminds you of something."

pg. 197 "I love that game where you draw a picture on my back with your finger and I try to guess what it is."

pg 211 "In Phoenix the streets ran flat and straight, and the jacaranda blossoms made strange ghosts in the slipstreams of the cars..."

pg 212 "One of the managers gave her a t-shirt with the words FICTIONAL CHARACTER printed on the front."

pg. 214 "Once there was a country where it rained for most of the year, and everyone resided underground, and no one was quite sure who was dead and who was living. But id did not matter because they were happy. And they were ever. And they were after."

(VIA FRANZ KAFKA) "It is enough that the arrows fit exactly in the wounds they have made."

pg. 225 "Sometimes, on the gray soaked days of February and March, when the sun seemed to dissolve into the clouds like an antacid tablet, h would peer down the street and see nothing but a gleaming field of injuries, as if the traumas and diseased which people suffered had become so powerful, so hardy, that they no longer needed their bodies to survive. From the doors of shops and art galleries came strange floating candles of heart pain and arthritis. Stray muscle cramps spilled across the sidewalk like sparks scattering from a bonfire. Neural diseases fluttered in the air like leaves falling through a shaft of light. A great fanning network of leukemia rose out of a taxi and drifted incandescently into an office building, and he watched as it vanished into bricks, a shining angel of cancer."

pg. 256 "Their thesis-and the Hval equations had already borne this out-was that there was no such thing as photonic degradation, that light was effectively immortal, or at least as immoral as the universe itself.

( )
  kirstiecat | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
What if our wounds emitted a strange light, the intensity of which perfectly matched the pain we felt? Kevin Brockmeier imagines just such an phenomenon in his latest novel, The Illumination, which features people made solitary by sickness and loss yet brought together by a tattered volume of love notes that they pass, sometimes unwittingly, from hand to hand.
Brockmeier’s animating idea suffuses this narrative with unexpected moments of beauty.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375425314, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2011: When wounds and illnesses, both superficial and severe, begin emitting a beautiful shimmering light--a phenomenon quickly coined "The Illumination"--a chain of characters learn to adapt to this unexpected change in Kevin Brockmeier's incandescent novel, The Illumination. No longer able hide their own pains from the world, and suddenly exposed to the discomfiting wounds of strangers, friends, and lovers, these characters struggle to adapt to a new way of experiencing life and, in very different ways, to understand the intrinsic connection between love and pain. "There was an ache inside people that seemed so wonderful sometimes," one character muses. And then, because this ache is also corporeal, "He wished he had brought his camera with him." While Brockmeier's brilliant novel is innately tied up in pain and loss, witnessing the lives he creates in the midst of this new wonder is not only a beautiful experience but, yes, an illuminating one. --Lynette Mong

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:11 -0400)

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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.

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