Originally published on January 25, 2010 at MomsMiami.
This weekend, I inhaled Kevin Brockmeier’s The Brief History of the Dead. This is a short read, about 270 pages. It’s pretty interesting and hooked me easily. The story plays with an idea of death and afterlife where when you die, you are sustained on another plane of (relatively happy) existence as long as there are people alive who knew you. Once they all die, you cross over. Brockmeier weaves the first two planes of existence together with a disastrous tragedy. He manages to make the existence of the second plane quite realistic and easy to grasp to. Sure, you kind of have questions, but they aren’t really nagging ones. Things just are in that world. He also succeeds in twisting things around a bit by making the description of our existence quite alien. In other words, you’re pretty much more comfortable in the second phase than in the first. The first is downright scary.
For me, the story was bittersweet. It was fascinating, and sort of an overwhelming experience to imagine all of the people whose existence may continue because you, simple little you, knew them– even if only in the briefest of passing moments. However, perhaps it was the melancholy mood over the weekend, I did find myself wondering, “Well gee what’s the point of it all?”. I didn’t find it depressing, but I didn’t find it entirely comfortable either. It definitely made me quite pensive and even somewhat nostalgic. It may very well put you in a “Carpe Diem” type of mode and is definitely worth the short time it takes to read for the unique concept and the simple elegance in which the story is told.