Monday, October 8

Bibliophile [The Illumination]

I'm sorry that all I've been doing with my life is reading. 
I trust NPR, and they named this a "best book of the year" in 2011.

The Illumination, by Kevin Brockmeier

Very intriguing read. I enjoyed it in itself, but I also appreciated the way the premise and idea occupies your mind even once the book is closed. Here's your blurb:

What if our pain was the most beautiful thing about us?
At 8:17 on a Friday night, the Illumination begins. Every wound begins to shine, every bruise to glow and shimmer. And in the aftermath of a fatal car accident, a journal of love notes, written by a husband to his wife, passes into the keeping of Carol Ann Page, and from there through the hands of five other people—a photojournalist, a schoolchild, a missionary, a writer, and a street vendor. As their stories unfold, we come to understand how intricately and brilliantly they are connected, in all their human injury and experience. With the artistry and imagination that have become his trademark, Kevin Brockmeier reveals a world that only he could imagine, casting his gaze on the wounds we bear and the light that radiates from us all.

This is my first novel from Brockmeier, and I would recommend it. With such a unique plot line, I honestly don't have too much to say about his writing style- it served the novel well by not standing out in a good or bad way, but instead allowing the content to shine (pun intended). While I cared about the characters (the novel follows 6 people, a chapter each), I was perhaps more drawn in by the social fall-out of the illumination of pain. It must have been great fun for the author to speculate on how the modern world would accept and move forward with such an event. I agree with reviews that feel each character represents a very different aspect of the book, for there are some chapters that I would highly recommend, and some that I didn't enjoy. Multi-perspective story telling is nothing new- I can name many books I've read this past year that give a different perspective each chapter, like A Visit From the Goon Squad and Poisonwood Bible. This novel, perhaps more than others, was inconsistent across the narration. 

Either way, I enjoyed this relatively quick read, and found the premise fascinating!

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