Things That Fall from the Sky: Stories

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9780375421341: Things That Fall from the Sky: Stories

Unexpected humor and tenderness intertwine with loneliness and desire to create a whimsical ambience throughout the stories of Things That Fall from the Sky. In “These Hands,” a male babysitter who claims never to have read Nabokov tells of his relationship, both constraining and exalting, with the small girl in his care. “A Day in the Life of Rumpelstiltskin” is the story of the bisected left half of the famous imp who is searching for his lost sense of wholeness. In “The Ceiling,” a man’s marriage slowly collapses as a massive object appears in the sky over his small town. And “The Jesus Stories” is the tale of a people who believe they can precipitate the Second Coming by telling every imaginable story about Jesus Christ.

Combining the simplicity of fairy tales with the physical and emotional detail of very adult lives, Kevin Brockmeier has found a voice unlike any other for the stories in this glittering collection.

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Review:

The stories in Kevin Brockmeier's debut collection require, test, try, exhaust, and--just often enough--reward the reader's patience. In Things That Fall from the Sky, Brockmeier writes in painstaking prose that's long on exposition and short on action. Many of these stories concern children. In "These Hands," a thirtysomething man, possibly with Nabokovian intentions, baby-sits an 18-month-old girl. In the title story, a depressive librarian finds relief, and even guidance, in the company of her small granddaughter. And in "The House at the End of the World," 4-year-old Holly describes her isolated life in a shack in the woods with her father: "This was during the collapse of civilization, and I believed we were the only people in the world." Here Brockmeier's expository style pays off, as he describes in detail father and daughter setting traps, lighting lanterns, and tracking streams. It's a kind of end-of-days Little House in the Big Woods, except, of course, the father is crazy, and civilization has not collapsed. In the end, Holly's mother comes to take her away, and Brockmeier doesn't shy for a moment from Holly's pain as she is carried "from the house and the bed and the world which were mine." At his best, Brockmeier writes with excruciatingly thorough imagination. --Claire Dederer

From the Back Cover:

"...Rarer still is a story like Kevin Brockmeier's 'The Ceiling' that so powerfully conjoins the parable and the realistic short story, the horrific with the domestic. Though 'The Ceiling' was written before September 11, 2001, it can now be read as a poetic meditation upon that tragic and unfathomable event in our history: an acknowledgement of our common humanity in the face of terror, and an eloquent if heartrending testimony to the resilience of the human spirit in extremis. In the fairy-tale simplicity of its narration and its ever-accelerating momentum, 'The Ceiling' may remind some readers of certain of the beautiful classic parables of Ray Bradbury. "--Joyce Carol Oates

"Brockmeier's witty, bittersweet tales are reminiscent of the work of Steven Millhauser; his stories successfully combine sophistication with innocence, lyricism with simplicity, formal quirkiness with a straightforward emotional fervency."--Heidi Julavits, author of The Mineral Palace

"Kevin Brockmeier's stories are crystalline wonders. They are fairy tales: wise, magical and heartwrenching; fantastic, and also achingly real. They are breathtaking."--Thisbe Nissen, author of The Good People of New York and Out of the Girls' Room and Into the Night

"Reading these stories is like flying in dreams--what should be impossible instead feels natural and effortless and true. There is a magic at work here. Brockmeier combines a fearless, fantastic imagination with a warm heart, and the resulting stories are brimming with mystery, and sadness, and moments of exquisite beauty."--Judy Budnitz, author of If I Told You Once and Flying Leap

“Brockmeier’s stories are crystalline wonders. They are breathtaking.”
—Thisbe Nissen, author of The Good People of New York

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