Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Brief History of the Dead - Kevin Brockmeier

This was one of those "I really must get round to reading" kind of books, and I had no preconceived ideas before I read it, choosing to stay away from reviews and lengthy, in depth articles about the subject matter.
The inhabitants of a city.  How did they get there?  How come some people know each other but others don't?  The population ebbs and flows - sometimes the city is so large that you can't walk to the other side in day, and at other times, whole neighbourhoods become empty and run down. Because this city is a place where people go after death, and they can stay there all the time that a person still alive has a memory of them.  This of course may mean that they have another whole lifetime to lead in this city, but some disappear within days of arriving.  Back in the world of the living, three Americans are in Antarctica, supposedly researching whether it's feasible for  a major soft drinks manufacturer to take polar ice and use in in the manufacture of their product, and therefore advertise it as being made with truly "clean" water.  And then things start to go wrong, and the single woman amongst the three is left alone for what seems a rather long time.   How these two worlds link up is indeed the brief history of the dead - a new and altogether fascinating journey.  As I closed the book I found myself disappointed in the last page or so of the book; but, given a while to think about it, I changed my mind and realised that it was exactly the right ending.  Whatever your views on life after death (or not, as the case may be), this will give you some definite food for thought.