A brief but beautiful and inspiring history
by CatParty on September 13, 2008When I first picked up "The Brief History of the Dead" I had my doubts about whether or not I would like the book. The plot had potential, but could have very easily been turned into a tacky and unpleasant read on life after death. I decided I would give the book a chance, and I am so glad that I did.
The title didn't lie, the book was indeed brief, requiring only a few hours to finish. In the novel, there is the world of the living and the world of the dead, simply known as "the City". Before arriving in the City, the dead must complete "the crossing", which is different for every person and beautifully described by Brockmeier. When the dead come to the city they attain jobs, and live much the same as they had on earth. The City is always expanding and changing to accommodate the residents, but the dead do not stay in the City indefinitely. As long as they endured in the memory of living people, they would remain in the City. The story focuses mainly on the characters of Luka Sims, who produces a newspaper for the dead, and Laura Byrd, one of the living. There is also insight into the thoughts and lives of many of the other dead. When the dead begin to mysteriously disappear as quickly as they arrive, Luka begins to investigate and soon discovers something devastating and tragic. The book alternates between the City and the living world, and everything and everyone ties together in small yet significant ways. The reader begins to see connections between things, and it really makes for a great and fascinating read. Not only is the plot intriguing, but the writing is really diverse, changing from beautifully descriptive writing to raw dialogue that fits each character and location and mood. The subject may be touchy for some, especially since different religions or people have various beliefs on life after death, but I think part of what makes this book so great is that it manages to entertain and inspire without offending or making any actual religious affiliation, even though there are mentions of heaven and hell. It isn't hard to find the words and ideas beautiful and moving. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for an unforgettable and interesting work of fiction!
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