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The View from the Seventh Layer

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  828 Ratings  ·  153 Reviews
Peering into the often unnoticed corners of life, Kevin Brockmeier has been consistently praised for the originality of his vision, the boundlessness of his imagination and the command of his craft. Once again, in this new collection of fiction, Brockmeier shows us a fantastical world that is intimately familiar but somehow distant and beautiful. From the touching title st ...more
ebook, 166 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by Vintage
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Carolee Wheeler
Oct 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
finished... finally
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
Dec 21, 2010 added it
Shelves: read-2010
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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...
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As with most collections of short stories, The View from the Seventh Layer is a bit of a mixed bag. I was interested to read it because I have enjoyed the writing and creativity behind the other books of Brockmeier's that I've read -- The Brief History of the Dead and The Illumination -- but didn't feel that they really hung together as novels. The short story form feels like a more natural fit for him. Structurally, the most experimental story here is "The Human Soul as a Rube Goldberg Device: ...more
Mar 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-my-library
I read Kevin Brockmeier's novel The Brief History of the Dead earlier and felt the whole time I was reading this "this is a short story writer doing a novel". He has two short story collections that are well regarded; I decided that The View from the Seventh Layer was an excellent place to start.

The collection for the most part is excellent. His writing and prose is delicate and precise at once. The collection opens and leads you in and announces that ideas are going to revealed about you a
Dec 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short stories. For the most part, amazing short stories. Brockmeier is an astounding writer; his prose is full of complex, gorgeous images, but with enough playfulness, too, to keep it from being unbearably pretentious. These are stories you can get lost in—literally: I don’t know how long I spent exploring the pathways of “The Human Soul as a Rube Goldberg Device: A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Story,” but it was a long time.

Some of it, however, I have to admit flew whoosh, right past my head. Som
Andrew Bernstein

Micro-review: Kevin Brockmeier feels like the (propery medicated to remove just a touch of the warped) love child of Aimee Bender and Etgar Keret.

While not a perfect collection of stories, the greatness of the great stories outweighs the negatives of the ones that were just "good"....

All in all, despite the few stories that did not quite grab me, or went on a little too long (Star Trek fan-fiction Tribble story is one of those) the collection is outstanding.

Brockmeier is an amazing author. He ha
Katie J Schwartz
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: met-the-author
Kevin Brockmeier came to my school this past fall and did a reading (Which is where I got this book, and can I just brag for a minute? It's signed. Cue squeals from the lit nerd girl writing this review), and as such I heard the entire text narrated in his voice. Not that I minded. He's very soft-spoken, and that worked well with his writing style, I thought.
The interesting thing about his style is that even though every story is about something different, they all feel the same. His writing rem
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
I wanted to give this 4 stars, but ultimately the collection was too uneven.

Loved (a lot):

- A Fable Ending in the Sound of a Thousand Parakeets
- The View from the Seventh Layer
- The Year of Silence
- Father John Melby and the Ghost of Amy Elizabeth
- The Human Soul as a Rube Goldberg Device: A Choose-Your-Own Adventure Story

Didn't so much love:

Everything else

Brockmeier, at his best, writes stories that feel like music. They're mysterious on the surface, but deep down you always know where they're
Alexander Cordova
I haven't gotten around to reviewing any of the books I've read for a while, mainly because I've been doing so at a breackneck pace due to the book challenge (which is a fantastic incentive) but it's been a while since I've encountered any collection of short stories that packs as many heavy hitters as Brockmeier has managed to compile in this book.

If you haven't read anything by the author before this is a great introduction, the stories are short and deal with a wide range of believable chara
Peter Darbyshire
This is a book for writers, with language so careful and beautiful it's as if the book was transcribed by monks — fitting given Brockmeier has an angel's powers of observation. As for the subject matter of the stories, well, think Chris Adrian having coffee with Kelly Link in Italo Calvino's cafe, and you'll have an idea. Just a few examples:

- A man finds God's overcoat and discovers people's prayers written on notes in the pockets.
- Strange silences descend upon a city, and the inhabitants real
May 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short story collection. Big hits and big misses. It was experimental, so I think any reader's reaction is much more personal than usual. My favorite stories were The Lives of the Philosophers, and Father John Melby. The fables were interesting. But other stories felt unfinished, or too vague. And the Rube Goldberg, make-your-own-adventure story in the middle was disappointing. I read out of order to save that one for last. But I gave up after getting to the very defeating end twice. There might ...more
Apr 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quirky stories that often lie between the real and the fantastic, skillfully mixing both. Generally, the technique does not get the best of the story, allowing the pain and joy of human emotion through. But, while the story "The Human Soul as a Rube Goldberg Device" initially intrigues, it ultimately irritates because the story's technique dominates here. Yeah, we get it, short or long it all ends up the same in the end. But it's kind of uneventful getting there in this one. It's very different ...more
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"And because they loved what they sang, no matter how painful or melancholy, a note of indomitable happiness ran through their voices like a fine silver thread (1)."

"There were times when the silence was close to perfect ... We came to know ourselves better than we had before, or if not better, then at least in greater stillness (69)."

"The city where no one looked anyone else in the eye produced its fair share of human happiness, but it was a cautious sort of happiness, never spilling too far p
Apr 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Brockmeier's "breakout" book, Brief History of the Dead, which I really enjoyed, but found it kind of petered out at the end. The setup was original and the world well-conceived, but nothing seemed to really happen. This seems a theme with Brockmeier as Seventh Layer struggles with the same lack of conflict and tension. That being said, the man can flat out write prose. Often times, when writers try and "freestyle" in the same manner as written in these pages, what comes acrossed feels fo ...more
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

Truly this is what Thomas Moore means by "the re-enchantment of everyday life."

I was drawn to this book by the cover and title, assuming it was a novel. It is actually a collection of stories, each with its own soul, but all revealing a much deeper reality than the one many of us assume. I went back to explore alternate possibilities in the choose-your-own-adventure story - something I've never been compelled to do before. (My story line ended rather abruptly after a visit to the c
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Morse code 1 11 Sep 05, 2010 02:02PM  
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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.
More about Kevin Brockmeier...

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“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.” 176 likes
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