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Things that Fall from the Sky

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  506 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
Weaving together loss and anxiety with fantastic elements and literary sleight-of-hand, Kevin Brockmeier’s richly imagined Things That Fall from the Sky views the nagging realities of the world through a hopeful lens.

In the deftly told “These Hands,” a man named Lewis recounts his time babysitting a young girl and his inconsolable sense of loss after she is wrenched away.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 8th 2003 by Vintage (first published 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,315)
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Mar 01, 2012 Noah rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-reviewed
Very Short Review: "Apples" and "The Jesus Stories" are worth the price of admission alone.

Short Review: A decent collection. I checked the book out of the library and immediately purchased it after reading "Apples," "The Jesus Stories," and "A Day in the Life of Half of Rumplestiltskin." I loved all of these, will reread them numerous times, and don't feel like saying much else about them because they're still to close to me. Though I will say that I'll always think of "Apples" whenever I heard
Jan 09, 2012 Al rated it really liked it
A varied collection of short stories, carefully crafted and light of touch. If nothing else, a real pleasant alternative to many recent collections I have read in that there is no graphic violence, no sex, no profanity, and no irrational cruelty. I didn't know that was possible any more. But it's more than that; a number of these stories are poignant and touching. Mr. Brockmeier's protagonists often reveal themselves as innocents and earn our admiration and respect, and his perceptions of the w ...more
Jul 28, 2008 Taylor rated it liked it
I read Brockmeier's novel A Brief History of the Dead and was absolutely blown away. It was a beautiful, haunting book. As a lover of the short story form, then, I couldn't wait to read this collection--but I was let down. There are a couple of really great stories, but, overall, neither the writing nor the plot conception of these stories begins to approach the masterful beauty of Brief History. I liked this book, but I didn't love it, and I thought I would, so my sense of disappointment was pr ...more
Mar 17, 2008 Ever rated it it was amazing
These stories are extremely cerebral, and still manage to feel fragile. My personal favorite is The House at the End of the World.
Barrett King
Jul 22, 2012 Barrett King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading "The Ceiling" in an anthology of short stories, I felt compelled to pick up the collection it came from. In some ways this was a mistake--Brockmeier's other stories have difficulty living up to that first impression. Some of them do, but some were a disappointment.

Of the 11 in the collection, I would say 3 were top notch. I thoroughly enjoyed "Apples", "The Ceiling", and "The House at the End of the World". The fact that I didn't love some of the other stories doesn't really surpri
May 31, 2008 Braden rated it liked it
This collection of short fiction begins with a story that is by turns creepy and beautifully done: "These Hands." Here's the thing about this story, though...KB has his narrator name-check Nabokov to prove that, yes, reader, yes, KB knows he's working in the vein of Lolita, and his character knows it too--but this knowledge didn't really help me to appreciate the story more. Actually, I thought KB's choice to have the child-character be an infant had already proven to me that KB was up to someth ...more
Melanie Page
While a lot of the sentences were quite heavy--a characteristic that caused me to read and re-read and re-read some paragraphs--a lot of the stories are quite fascinating. They ask the reader to internalize what is right and what is wrong, for example. When a 35-year-old male babysitter begins to call the baby under his charge his daughter, should we be frightened or saddened by this closeness? When a father has kidnapped his child and possessed her since her infancy, should we feel relieved or ...more
Dec 27, 2008 Maureen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
sadly, i liked the chesterton quote about fairy tales which brockmeier prefaces his book with most of all, but there are several stories that charmed me:
apples, a day in the life of half rumpelstiltskin, the ceiling, the jesus stories (which bore the fragrance of borges)and the house at the end of the world. i was a little bored otherwise. i like the concepts and not the execution, i guess.

"in the fairytale an incomprehensible happiness rests upon an incomprehensible condition. a box is opened,
Oct 27, 2009 Meg rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
I appreciate great description of ordinary things, and this book excels at it. Example:

"Brown leaves shot with threads of red and yellow skittered across the park. They swept past merry-go-rounds and picnic tables, past heavy gray stones and rotunda bars. A man and his daughter tottered on a seesaw, a knot of sunlight shuttling along the rod between them like a bubble in a tube of water." p.24

Some stories in the middle disappointed, but overall it's a fine collection. Reminds me of Aimee Bender
Sep 29, 2015 Alyssa rated it really liked it
Favorite stories: Things that Fall from the Sky, The Ceiling
Absolom J. Hagg
Aug 21, 2013 Absolom J. Hagg rated it liked it
A couple really good stories and wonderful writing throughout, but for heaven's sake, man, make something happen. Too often these stories were just inert glimpses into the lives of people I didn't find all that interesting.
Feb 18, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
I liked this collection much better than Brockmeier's second. It seemed less calculated, just honest. Several pieces reminded me so much of Millhauser's work, but still held enough of Brockmeier's voice and spirit, it seemed, that they worked out. My favorites were "These Hands," "The Ceiling," and "The Jesus Stories." I found each thought-provoking, compelling. "The Ceiling," probably had the strongest hold on me, maybe because it was slightly absurd, but the absurdism was consistent to the ver ...more
Feb 28, 2015 Ellice rated it liked it
Short stories are tough. The author really doesn't have much time to grab you, so they have to be a lot more precise than novels, which sometimes take a while to get going. I really liked Kevin Brockmeier's The Brief History of the Dead, but most of these stories didn't grab me the way that novel did. There were a few exceptions: "The Ceiling," in which the sky literally begins to fall, "The Passenger," in which a whole civilization lives out its life on an airplane, and "The House at the End of ...more
Daniel Gualtieri
Jul 25, 2015 Daniel Gualtieri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a gorgeous collection of consistently good short stories, with a few *exceptional* ones in the mix, with "Apples" being probably the biggest highlight. Brockmeier is skilled at the form and nearly every story delivered a powerful punch to the gut. These are mainly stories about families and the relations between people, with a swirl of magical realism to sweeten the pot. I have never read Brockmeier before, but will definitely do so in the near future.
Chance Lee
May 21, 2013 Chance Lee rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I was drawn to this collection by "The Ceiling", a story in which a relationship crumbles as an invisible ceiling slowly descends onto a town and squishes everyone. Very Twilight Zone.

A few other stories in this collection are just as phenomenal. The title story, "Things That Fall from the Sky," is about memories, our perceptions, and unexpected friendships. "Space" is a story about loss and illuminating what is lost through stories.

Many of these stories are stories about stories. Some of the m
Colin Moon
Jun 01, 2016 Colin Moon rated it really liked it
There are power in these stories--deep, poetic power--but some of them slip away with not much gravity to them. The powerhouses (The House at the End of the World, Space, Apples) overshadow both the 'not-quites' and 'almost-theres', but a lot of what happens in these stories (upon first read, mind you) doesn't land the way one would hope. Perhaps my problem is an ungrounded mistrust of speculation and/or fairy tale aesthetic--a feeling that sometimes a story finds its way to its conclusion by st ...more
Jan 03, 2008 Kate rated it liked it
Recommended to Kate by: Bertram
Brockmeier is a dreamy writer, and I have a low tolerance for preciousness, so I began each story hesitantly. He never convinced me with a first line that the story would be more than fluff. But almost every time, he proved more grounded than was initially let on.

His strengths are in taking what might be a forced gimmick and giving it substance, like the idea of the sky pushing down to the ground, and in writing from a child's or childish point of view. Attempts at age, wisdom and some kinds of
wonderful collection of short stories. There are a couple that I don't quite remember, but they're balanced by a couple (Small Degrees; The Ceiling) that worked so perfectly for me that I'd swear I've read them before -- so wonderfully familiar and comfortable.
Courtney Johnson
Jan 18, 2016 Courtney Johnson rated it it was ok
Some of these stories in this book were fun, and some were mind-numbingly boring. Overall, this collection didn't really appeal to me. I will not be reading this book again.
I adored "The View from the Seventh Layer" from Brockmeier, so I was glad to tuck into this one.

Another group of short stories about strange people. Like a Nabokovian babysitter who has an obsession with the little girl in his charge. Or a family living in a town where a strange black orb descends like a ceiling until they are all crawling around in perpetual darkness, or a group of people trying to get Jesus to come back sooner.

Brockmeier's writing voice is always dry, curious and funny. I reco
Mar 01, 2010 Claire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Would give this 3.5 stars if I could. I like Kevin Brockmeier a lot -- his writing is so clear; I like how he mixes fantasy and reality without going off the edge of being a sci-fi writer at all; somehow, though, something about these stories is a little *too* unassuming, a little too clear, not quite enough punch in the stomach. I did particularly like "The Ceiling" and "A Day in the Life of Half of Rumpelstiltskin." Beautiful writing, beautiful ideas, still wanting more impact, if only from on ...more
Sep 23, 2008 Bill rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best short story collections I've read in a long while. It consists of eleven delicious gems that are part fairy tale, part science fiction, and 100% engrossing. Brockmeier has a wonderful way with words, and his imagination is remarkable. Each story combines the absolutely commonplace with the absolutely mind-bending in a way that makes it quite easy to accept the unlikely circumstances of the plots. I would highly recommend this one to lovers of the short-story genre.
Oct 05, 2013 Lori rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
This was a beautifully themed book of short stories. I enjoyed a couple of the stories more than others. The first about the babysitter and the one about the airplane was very cool, all abstract and metaphoric. the little love story about the kid's first kiss was shockingly beautiful. I love how there's one sentence in a story that just encompasses a gut wrenching heartfelt feeling. It's a beautiful, artsy collection. Definitely a wonderful read.
Apr 01, 2014 Cielo rated it really liked it
The stories were vivid. They almost felt like dreams. The descriptions were wonderful. My favorite stories would have to be Apples, A Day in the Life of Half of Rumplestiltskin, and Space. These stories would probably sound great when real aloud.
Jan 22, 2012 Grant rated it it was amazing
Kevin Brockmeier is a wonderful writer. This was a wonderful collection of short stories. I can't think of one that I didn't like. They are a little strange but I think that's part of the wonder. You should read this collection by him. I don't even know which one can pick as a favorite or as the best. He somehow just grips you with his characters' internal reflections.
Dec 28, 2010 Adrienne marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the writing in the first few stories of this book, but the content was lacking. In any case, I kept going. But then the story with gratuitous use of bible quotations left a bad taste in my mouth. After twelve years of Catholic school, I've had enough bible verses to last me a lifetime, and then I couldn't bring myself to read the rest of the book. So it goes.
Sep 25, 2011 Lindsey rated it liked it
an interesting collection of short stories. I liked the more realistic ones better than the more fantastical, although I usually really like fantasy and magical realism. The more complex stories just seemed like the author was trying too hard... I don't know. It wasn't bad, though, and I still enjoyed it, which is why I gave it three stars instead of two.
Feb 12, 2011 beentsy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011-done
Amazing stories. I particularly liked A Day in the Life of Half of Rumpelstiltskin, Apples, The Ceiling, and The House at the End of the World. Beautiful writing and stories full of characters that are so real and so three dimensional that you feel like you can almost reach out and touch them or speak to them.
David Mahaffey
Jul 28, 2015 David Mahaffey rated it really liked it
Things these short stories have in common: an undercurrent of unease; an aspect of reality that doesn't match our own, on either a grand scale or a microcosmic one. Also: impressive world-building and more than a few keen observations and turns of phrase. I am glad to have all these universes in my head.
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Born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, Brockmeier received his MFA from the Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1997. His stories have been featured in The New Yorker, McSweeny's, Crazyhorse, and The Georgia Review. He is the recipient of an O. Henry Award, the Nelson Algren Award, and a National Endowment of the Arts grant.
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“If I could, I would work my way backward, paring away the years. I would reel my life arouond the wheel of this longing like so much loose wire.” 0 likes
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