978-0-375-72769-6 / 0375727698

Things that Fall from the Sky





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About the book:

The stories in Kevin Brockmeier's debut collection require, test, try, exhaust, and--just often enough--reward the reader's patience. In Things That Fall from the Sky, Brockmeier writes in painstaking prose that's long on exposition and short on action. Many of these stories concern children. In "These Hands," a thirtysomething man, possibly with Nabokovian intentions, baby-sits an 18-month-old girl. In the title story, a depressive librarian finds relief, and even guidance, in the company of her small granddaughter. And in "The House at the End of the World," 4-year-old Holly describes her isolated life in a shack in the woods with her father: "This was during the collapse of civilization, and I believed we were the only people in the world." Here Brockmeier's expository style pays off, as he describes in detail father and daughter setting traps, lighting lanterns, and tracking streams. It's a kind of end-of-days Little House in the Big Woods, except, of course, the father is crazy, and civilization has not collapsed. In the end, Holly's mother comes to take her away, and Brockmeier doesn't shy for a moment from Holly's pain as she is carried "from the house and the bed and the world which were mine." At his best, Brockmeier writes with excruciatingly thorough imagination. --Claire Dederer

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