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The View from the Seventh Layer
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The View from the Seventh Layer

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,048 ratings  ·  180 reviews
Kevin Brockmeier--award -winning author of The Brief History of the Dead--has been widely praised for the richness of his imagination, the lyrical grace and playfulness of his language, and the empathic emotional complexity of his storytelling. And this dazzling collection once again affirms his place as one of the most creative and compassionate writers of his generation. ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 18th 2008 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2008)
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Carolee Wheeler
Oct 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who've grown out of Francesca Lia Block
As often happens, I began this book completely enchanted. Brockmeier's The Brief History of the Dead was one of my three books of the year, last year, and I figured this collection of short stories would please me similarly.

The first and title story, about a housecleaner named Olivia, is written in a style that I cannot really describe but absolutely love--where every word comes to you gently, rhythmically, in an almost fairy-tale way. It's almost as though the writer is deliberately reeling you
Aug 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-freebie
I listened to this one from the Levar Burton Reads podcast.

When I first heard it, I loved it, but then thinking about how God was portrayed as not wanted to deal with humans and their problems anymore didn't sit well with me. Also, didn't anyone pray for anyone OTHER than themselves? And prayer isn't just Please. It's also Thank You, You are Amazing and I Am Sorry. Maybe the coat only got the Please prayers?

Also, the ending kinda...I don't know if I got it? Like, were the fortune cookies just t
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it
A pretty experimental collection of short stories. As is often the case, some of these worked better than others, but saying that.. none of them especially stood out to me, and now just a few days after finishing reading I am finding it hard to recall any at all. Brockmeier writes well, however I finished several of these stories wondering what he had been trying to say and unsure what the point of them was. Many very quiet, character focused stories here.

If you enjoy short stories with a magica
Sep 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
My 14 year old self might have loved this book. My nanny would have definitely loved it. My aged, cynical, hardened, sarcastic, jaded self didn't hate it. It smells of sunshine and rainbows. It's full of sweet imagery and softness. Sometimes it made my heart remember a simpler time. I will say, any man over the age of 10 whose mind is still filled with cherries, Van Morrison, and parakeets is a treasure to behold. I wish I was in love with him. I’m glad I can still like this book.
Apr 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
There's something magical in each of these stories. Definitely the best thing I've read since Joe Hill.

"If only she had known when she was growing up how hard the rest of her life was going to be, how diminished, she would have been so much more joyful, so much more daring. She would have done all the things she had failed to do."

"She had the same responsibility as everybody else did: to live as softly as she could in the world."

Warning: Side effects may include dry mouth, drowsiness, and an ina
Dec 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 21st-centurylit
The problem I have with good short stories is that I always walk away feeling like I've just found my new favorite author ever. Kevin Brockmeier's The View From the Seventh Layer is a collection of really good short stories.

I have only read Brockmeier's A Brief History of the Dead which I had also really liked, though I remember sort of waffling because I have this serious brain-block when it comes to new writers that is a throw-back to unresolved issues I have with Dave Eggers, but that's hardl
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this collection of short stories. It hit me emotionally and intellectually in equal measure. So many lovely, insightful, beautifully crafted sentences; I haven't read a book this good in a long time. The "choose your own adventure" story -- yes, this book even has clever gimmicks, well done.
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-fiction
Wow, this was fantastic... what an imagination! Someone grab this man & sign him for the screenplay.

To listen in the author's own voice :

Dec 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard for me not to love Kevin Brockmeier. I think he has one of the most human approaches to supernatural materials of anyone out there. Whether he's writing a ghost story, a sci-fi love story, or a fable, it's all ultimately about the complexities of the human heart. The highs were really high for me in this collection. There were a couple that didn't hit, but overall, the stories felt so different from what I usually read, it was hard not to be enticed and drawn in by them. A sexy ghost! ...more
David Sunderland
May 18, 2010 rated it did not like it
I had high hopes after I read "Brief History of the Dead" by Brockmeier. This was a disaster in my estimation. I found none of the stories compelling, or even readable for that matter. I put it down halfway through and I doubt I will ever bring myself to finish it.
Naranzaya Eldev-ochir
Nov 20, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: owned
finished... finally
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really liked a lot of the stories in this collection. They were well written and creative. Several of the stories have a sci-fi element to them, but others are more realistic. I originally heard this author on Levar Burton's podcast where he read "A Fable With Slips of White Paper" in which a man bought God's overcoat at a thrift store and soon found the prayers of everyone in his vicinity on slips of paper in the pockets of the coat. I really liked that story a lot. I enjoyed "Home Videos" wh ...more
Taylor Ramirez
I highly recommend that you listen to Brockmeier read this story, it’s absolutely wonderful:

~Pretty Spoiler-y~

This is an absolutely beautiful short story. It’s beautifully written with an interesting premise. Despite not knowing the main character’s name, you get a real feel for his character. The ending is wonderfully ambiguous and saddening. You really feel for the main character’s struggle of having power but sometimes even that power not being enough.
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
Another Levar Burton reads. I think I'll give him two more tries. I think the problem I have is so much of it is modern literature and modern lit just bores me with it's lack of style. This was at the same time kinda blasphamous and very Christian. Based on the idea that "everyone" prays and that's a window into their soul. It should have been humourous. It wasn't. And there were only two women, one of whom just wanted to be told she was pretty, the other suicidal.
Her Royal Orangeness
This collection of short stories is simply sublime. There is something about the author’s voice that brought to mind the way one would approach a frightened animal - softly, slowly, and cautiously. Yet at the same time the message of most of the stories was thought-provoking in a “smack you upside the head” sort of way. That dichotomy worked, and it worked very well. The overall tone is melancholy, there are strong messages about society and spirituality, and there is a hint of the supernatural ...more
This is not a perfect collection of stories. For instance, "The Air is Full of Little Holes," a story about the finding of "The Afghan Girl," reads like a story about a thing. Nothing feels much added. Likewise, "The Lady with the Pet Tribble," a rewriting of "The Lady with the Pet Dog," by Anton Chekov from the point of view of Captain Kirk is cute and amusing, but after ten pages of the twenty something page story, the novelty has worn off and you are reading a cute imitation of a better story ...more
Jul 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Kate by: Iorek Byrnison
I really enjoy Kevin Brockmeier's writing. He depicts sensory elements incredibly well, and the conceits for his more imaginative stories don't come off precious, as you'd expect.

But I have to admit, I didn't enjoy this as much as I did Things that Fall from the Sky . A couple of the stories in that collection knocked me over a bit, whereas none of the Seventh Layer stories really did. But "The Lady with the Pet Tribble" made me laugh, and "The Air Is Full of Little Holes" was surprisingly movi
Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing collection of short stories from Little Rock's own Kevin Brockmeier. These are stories that cause you to visit places in your inner thoughts that you might never have gone before. Unique and provoking with threads of loss and what ifs, I couldn't put it down and am planning on reading his two novels. One of our bookclub members thought that he may well be the "Virginia Wolf or Wm. Faulkner" of his generation!
Jan Priddy
Oct 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Kevin Brockmeier's story collection is a treasure. Every single story worked for me, every one seemed wise and wonderful. Some are fantastical, some are realist, but each story is a gem. I admit to being most deeply touched by the "fables" and "Andrea Is Changing Her Name." The only disappointment is that I am near the end of the Brockmeier canon.
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
I acknowledge the loveliness of language and image, but the stories were depressing - even those that may have been 'happier' than others. Mostly, I tried to enjoy the pretty writing and avoid too much involvement with what was going on.
Kellie Porter
Jun 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
Relies a bit too much on fairy-tale storybook construction sometimes, but overall a very inventive collection of short stories. The few gems in the bunch make up for the duds.
Jul 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: THose interested in the art of short story fiction
If you're looking for a great short story writer, Kevin Brockmeier is your man. However, if you are looking for his very best work as far as short stories go, I would recommend Things That Fall From the Sky over this one. Still, the first half of this collection is quite flawless. Brockmeier takes us on a journey of a town obsessed with sound and the man who was mute but raised parakeets ("A Fable Ending in the Sound of a Thousand Parakeets") to the story of a world which craves the ending of al ...more
Chrysten Lofton
3.0⭐ “Why do you do it? Why can’t you stop torturing me?”

Nearing the end of the season, we’re on the 23rd episode of Stitcher’s LeVar Burton Reads, and gifted with “A Fable with Slips of White Paper Spilling from the Pockets” by Kevin Brockmeier.

If you have a hot tea or coffee near you, have a sip before it gets cold, and let me just say this story is great. It’s one of those shorts that is ideal for this podcast because it offers something universal. The universality of needing.
Margaret Carmel
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the best short story collection I've read all year.

The View from the Seventh Layer is one of the those rare collections where every story felt magical to me and got me. There wasn't a single piece here that I didn't like and even in some of the ones that didn't resonate with me as much as others, there were still flashes of brilliance in his writing that I appreciated.

In these stories, Brockmeier successfully plays with magical realism in a subtle way. A lot of short story writers shoo
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I found this book because of its final story, "A Fable with Slips of White Paper Spilling from the Pockets," that appeared in LeVar Burton's new podcast, LeVar Burton Reads. The premise of the story is that the story's narrator purchases "God's overcoat" at a thrift shop, and soon after he discovers prayers on slips of paper that appear in the pockets. What he does about this and how it affects him is the rest of the story. I hadn't ever heard a story like this and it captured my imagination.

While not my favorite of the Levar Burton Reads podcast selections, I enjoyed this short story. I'm not religious myself, but I didn't find the Christian themes to be offensive - it's simply a work of fiction that does feature religious beliefs, but I didn't find it to be particularly preachy. It was a charming little story about a man who gets a coat with people's prayers and how overwhelming receiving all those needs are. Because mainly this story story is primarily about need and it's definit ...more
S.W. Gordon
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Fascinating work! Brockmeier can be intellectual and playful at the same time. There are so many hidden cookies in these stories but the reader must "LISTEN WELL" and go the extra mile to explore all the hidden meanings that are just under the surface. Chekovian fan fiction anyone? The elegiacal symphony of a thousand parakeets? The truth is out there. The clues are carefully placed. Enjoy...
Mitchell Easter
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading Kevin Brockmeier’s work is like slipping into a gloriously creative unreality of familiarity, oddness, and wonder. His floating imagination, as well as his ability to express it so mesmerizingly, knows no bounds that I can find. And more often than not, it all has meaning in unexpected ways. He is truly a unique voice.
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book of short stories. And I usually don't care for short story collections. A mixture of fantasy, realism, science fiction, fairy tale and fable, it is unlike any other collection I have read. I will be looking for more books by this author and is one of my favorite books that I have ever read.
Carly Palacios
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
It is always a pleasure to completely lose myself in Brockmeier's books. All the short stories in this collection are creative, original, intense, and incredibly detailed. As a big fan of "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, I really loved "The Human Soul as a Rube Goldberg Device"-- don't forget to check pg. 124 for a hidden experience not included in the selections.
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Morse code 2 13 Sep 13, 2018 04:07PM  
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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.
“How often, you wonder, has the direction of your life been shaped by such misunderstandings? How many opportunities have you been denied--or, for that matter, awarded--because someone failed to see you properly? How many friends have you lost, how many have you gained, because they glimpsed some element of your personality that shone through for only an instant, and in circumstances you could never reproduce? An illusion of water shimmering at the far bend of a highway.” 188 likes
“Sometimes you imagine that everything could have been different for you, that if only you had gone right one day when you chose to go left, you would be living a life you could never have anticipated. But at other times you think there was no other way forward--that you were always bound to end up exactly where you have.” 154 likes
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