When I received the ARC of Kevin Brockmeier's The Brief History of the Dead I knew hands down that it was going to be at the very least an interesting read. Getting new books is like getting a Christmas present early! I'll never complain about the number of books I have waiting for me because I know that there are some real gems in the pile and it's only a matter of time before I get to them.
I remember reading Brief History and cracking up. In fact, we actually received a second copy and one of my co-workers snatched it up after hearing me rave about it. Here's some info:
When a person dies, they live on in the memories of others. Brockmeier has taken this to a whole new level, playing off some African beliefs where the soul exists on three planes. The city of the dead is filled with those people who, having passed on, exist in this interim world as long as someone living remembers them. For reasons unknown to its inhabitants, the city is quickly shrinking both in size and in population. Meanwhile, in the land of the living, Laura Byrd finds herself trapped, alone, at a research site in Antarctica. With no communication to the outside world, her fellow researches set off, days ago, to find help. Laura, left with dwindling supplies, is forced to make a decision. She can wait and see which kills her first, the hunger or the cold, or, she can trek across the ice and try to find help on her own. This is an incredibly engaging tale that is both hilarious and thought provoking. Surprisingly, though the topic would seem to be heavy reading material, this is a very quick read driven by Brockmeier’s clever and dark humor.
It's a strange book, to be sure. One that will probably not appeal to everyone. The funniest part, the part I can't really tell you, is when you figure out exactly what caused the catastrophe behind the whole thing. I suspected rather early and it made it that much more amusing! Hate to be cryptic, but you'll just have to find out what I'm talking about on your own. Be warned, it's not all roses and guffaws. There are some quite sad parts to this novel, as should be expected given the subject matter. It was never overwhelmingly so for me, however.