Shine a Light


What if you could actually see your own pain and that of everyone around you? That is the question at the heart of "The Illumination" (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2011, $24.95), best-selling author Kevin Brockmeier's latest work of fiction. Rather than attempting answers, however, the book provides a moving and thought-provoking meditation on how pain shapes the lives of the novel's six characters, loosely tying them together through a journal of daily one-line love notes from a husband to his wife. ("I love the soft blue veins on your wrist. I love your lopsided smile.")

The finest works of fiction slide us easily into the world of its characters, allowing us to believe. In the world of "The Illumination," everyone's pain becomes visible, whether through the piercing rays of light emanating from broken bones to the sparkle of scrapes, and the dull, persistent glow of emotional scars and chronic illnesses. Rather than asking how and why such a thing could happen, Brockmeier delves into his characters' souls, where things are not always pretty. With its radiant and crystalline language and deep introspection, the book will change how you think about pain.

Kevin Brockmeier signs and reads from "The Illumination" at Lemuria Books (202 Banner Hall, 4465 Interstate 55 N., 601-366-7619) on Feb. 23, beginning at 5 p.m.


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