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Extended Audio Sample The Illumination Audiobook, by Kevin Brockmeier Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,030 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kevin Brockmeier Narrator: Graham Rowat Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2011 ISBN: 9781461804031
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What if our pain was the most beautiful thing about us?
 
At 8:17 on a Friday night, the Illumination begins. Every wound begins to shine, every bruise to glow and shimmer. And in the aftermath of a fatal car accident, a journal of love notes, written by a husband to his wife, passes into the keeping of Carol Ann Page, and from there through the hands of five other people—a photojournalist, a schoolchild, a missionary, a writer, and a street vendor. As their stories unfold, we come to understand how intricately and brilliantly they are connected, in all their human injury and experience.

With the artistry and imagination that have become his trademark, Kevin Brockmeier reveals a world that only he could imagine, casting his gaze on the wounds we bear and the light that radiates from us all.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Brockmeier’s consistently arresting observations have the throb of lived—rather than merely imagined—experience…In The Illumination it isn’t our agonies and discomforts that define us, but the selves we build in response to them.”

    Salon

  • “Show[s] us the astonishment of life as it is really being lived.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Lush…At once dark and profound…[The Illumination] never fails to be deeply felt and precisely observed.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A beautiful novel…Brockmeier is a dazzling stylist.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “This is a radiant, bewitching, and profoundly inquisitive novel of sorrow, perseverance, and wonderment.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • Selected for the February 2011 Indie Next List
  • A 2011 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book
  • An 2011 NPR Best Book
  • A 2011 Seattle Times Best Book

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mrsgaskell | 2/16/2014

    " I enjoyed The Brief History of the Dead very much although it did lag towards the end. So, I was intrigued by this new title by the same author. It's an interesting concept, that people's injuries and pain begin to glow with light and can be perceived by everyone. There are five or six separate stories of individuals whose only connection is that a diary of love notes passes through each of their hands at some point. I was expecting some overall connection or wrapping up, some message, but as the book went on it seemed less and less likely that it was heading anywhere and my reading became less focused. As another reviewer said, it became boring and confusing. The author has a way with words, and I never considered giving up on the book but ultimately it was a disappointment and perhaps in retrospect I should have quit reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heather M | 2/12/2014

    " While beautifully written and beautifully imagined, I felt The Illumination lacked story and character development. It seemed a series of short stories around a central premise rather than a cohesive novel. I generally like novels that switch between the perspectives of multiple characters; however, the level of depth we are treated to in the characters lives in The Illumination never passes the surface level. Few of these characters change throughout their sections; I don't believe any change for the better. We are left with in the same sort of resolution-less apathy common in short stories. That coupled with forgettable characters who lack drive, heart, and resolution doesn't leave me with the kind of feeling I like to get from reading novels. I like to get to know characters better, live their lives through them. This is more a criticism of contemporary fiction than of Kevin Brockmeier in particular, but I don't care much to read the lives of damaged, sad individuals with nothing to lose and nothing to gain. We always have something to gain. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jill | 2/5/2014

    " This had potential but failed to meet my expectations. I was hoping for a book of insight and it just did not cut the mustard for me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa Porter | 2/2/2014

    " One of the best books I've read in awhile, maybe ever. What if we could see a person's pain, radiating from the place it originates? How would we treat each other differently? And what does that say about pain and the lessons it teaches us? And the flip side: What does it mean to truly love? This book is driven by a central narrative that flows through a handful of perspectives in this post-illumination world and promises to enchant, enlighten, and trouble you. Please read it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jennifer Louden | 2/1/2014

    " gorgeous writing, very inventive and only made it half way through - I just didn't care enough about the characters, it all felt a bit too post modern New Yorker magazine for my taste. Call me old fashioned. My friend Mary loved this book - maybe I will return to it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joe | 1/19/2014

    " Three stars for the beginning...twas great! But the whole thing kinda feel apart, which was a bit sad. Love the idea, though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 1/17/2014

    " Very interesting book around six different characters. I didn't love all of the characters but some were very interesting. The concept of the book is interesting as well... a world where people's pain is illuminated by a light that radiates from the pain. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tara | 1/13/2014

    " Not exactly the "feel good" read of the year, but very well written and an interesting look at physical and emotional pain. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Morgan | 12/6/2013

    " The beginning was engaging, and then the Ryan Shifrin chapter killed the momentum. Once I slogged through that chapter things got interesting again until the novel just...ended. Great premise, but not completely satisfying. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brooke | 12/1/2013

    " This book intrigue me at the start but I slowly lost my interest. That doesn't mean that this book wasn't beautiful, as it was, but it seemed to lose the the direction of the story. I'd give it a 3.5 if it were an option. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lobster Moriarty | 11/27/2013

    " Yes, this book has its faults. But, yes, I loved it anyway. I think it might even be more of a compliment to this book that I was willing to overlook its flaws and still enjoy it so very much. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Natalie | 11/12/2013

    " A beautiful story about compassion "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patricia Pugsley | 10/11/2013

    " It was okay. I was intrigued by the way any injury or pain glowed visibly to all. As I have chronic pain, I was drawn in by the idea. It could have been much better. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meg | 7/31/2013

    " I still love his writing style, although this one starts stronger than it ends. Interesting concept with pain and light. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joan Winnek | 5/20/2013

    " I was wrong earlier, there are six sections. I liked some better than others, but the wonderful writing carried me through. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellen Daniel | 3/11/2013

    " I love the way he writes and the unusual way he tells stories, but this one was a bit hard to follow and had a less than satisfying resolution. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Meepspeeps | 1/30/2013

    " Second novel in a row that didn't grab me at all despite favorable recommendations from others. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Johanna DeBiase | 10/26/2012

    " This is a really interesting concept for a book and well written. It is more like connected short stories than a novel (there is not over-arching narrative). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lavina | 9/23/2012

    " Three stars for the first handful of chapters. I'm with everyone else who said the shtick lost steam by the middle of the book, if not slightly before. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Simon Cooper | 7/28/2012

    " Unsettling and deeply satisfying at the same time "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alicia J | 6/19/2012

    " Another incredible book from Kevin Brockmeier. I'm looking forward to reading absolutely everything he's ever written now. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amanda Kearney-smith | 5/22/2012

    " The writing was great and the idea was creative if not a little dark, but disappointing end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bradley | 12/15/2011

    " I love Kevin Brickmeier. His books remind me of Alice Hoffman and Stephen King. This book is a set of interlinked stories concerning a book of love letters. A really great read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alicia | 10/24/2011

    " Another incredible book from Kevin Brockmeier. I'm looking forward to reading absolutely everything he's ever written now. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 linnea | 10/8/2011

    " it would have worked better as just a short story "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Trina | 8/21/2011

    " good premise, doesn't follow through with a defined sense of completeness...feels flat at the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Catherine | 8/18/2011

    " Unusual story--the book is somewhere between a series of six linked stories of different people, but they are held together by some common themes, and are all allegorcial to some degree--really interesting to read, and I would recommend it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tom | 8/17/2011

    " What starts out brilliantly with a great idea quickly descends into trite unoriginal stereotypes. Brockmeier manages to take an innovative story and grind it into the mundane. Just read the first section. Then it gets uninteresting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 8/10/2011

    " This was a cool concept, but I think it would've been better as a short story. I got tired of the book after midway... "

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About the Author
Author Kevin Brockmeier

Kevin Brockmeier is the author of The Truth about Celia, Things That Fall from the Sky, and multiple children’s novels. His stories have appeared in many publications, including the New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Georgia Review, The Best American Short Stories, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and multiple editions of the O. Henry Prize Stories anthology. He is the recipient of the Nelson Algren Award, Italo Calvino Short Fiction Award, James Michener–Paul Engle Fellowship, three O. Henry Awards, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.

About the Narrator

Graham Rowat is a television and theater actor who is best known for his stage performance in Dracula, Beauty and the Beast, and Mamma Mia. He currently resides in New York with his wife, Kate Baldwin.