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A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip: A Memoir of Seventh Grade [Kindle Edition]

Kevin Brockmeier
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Kindle Edition $9.99  
Hardcover $17.41  
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Book Description

At age twelve, Kevin Brockmeier is ready to become a different person: not the boy he has always been—the one who cries too easily and laughs too easily, who lives in an otherland of sparkling daydreams and imaginary catastrophes—but someone else altogether.
 
Over the course of one school year—seventh grade—he sets out in search of himself. Along the way, he happens into his first kiss at a church party, struggles to understand why his old friends tease him at the lunch table, becomes the talk of the entire school thanks to his Halloween costume, and booby-traps his lunch to deter a thief.
 
With the same deep feeling and oddly dreamlike precision that are the hallmarks of his fiction, the acclaimed novelist now explores the dream of his own past and recovers the person he used to be.




From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In three acclaimed novels and two story collections, Brockmeier (The Illumination, 2011) earned his reputation as a literary virtuoso attuned to the illusory facets of everyday life. His rollicking first memoir, centered on his formative year in the seventh grade, affirms his talents and explores their foundations. Twelve-year-old Kevin kicks off the school year eavesdropping on a crush and becoming the butt of jokes during an all-school weekend sleepaway, initiating a turbulent year in which he determines he’s a Night Court guy, shows up at his Christian school dressed as Dolly Parton for Halloween, discovers the possibilities of literature, and tastes the brief satisfaction of celebrity after staging a play. Narrating in feverish third-person prose that accentuates his clumsy steps toward adulthood, Brockmeier examines the false intimacy of first kisses, the variable definitions of “best friend,” the unexpected ways jokes can escalate, and the absurd lengths one sometimes goes to impress others. In a hilariously vivid, novelistic chronicle of the mid–1980s, Brockmeier nails the awkward triumphs and life-affirming disasters of teenagedom, revealing the creative significance of what might otherwise seem banal. --Jonathan Fullmer

Review

Filmstrip is a funny, poignant oddity. . . . There's something here for you as long as you remember being 12, having disloyal friends, and wondering when the opposite sex was going to discover how cool you were. . . . The prose is always a pleasure, and our little underdog hero is so likable that you're relieved just to be holding the book in your hands: It's proof that he turned out okay. A-”
Entertainment Weekly

“Brockmeier’s evocative, gracefully written memoir so beautifully captures a slice of our lives many may be tempted to write about, but few want to remember. . . . Brockmeier also does an excellent job anchoring his memoir in time without limiting its appeal only to those who came of age in that decade. In his fiction, Brockmeier has shown he’s a versatile prose stylist, and he makes the transition to memoir without sacrificing that quality. . . . Lovely.”
Bookreporter 

“Masterful. . . . This is painful stuff—and important and beautifully written stuff, in Brockmeier’s hands—worthy of your time and attention. It’s insightful, relayed at a propulsive clip, and captures the complicated inner life of a seventh grader with more unflinching precision than anything you’ll read on the subject. This book will help you.”
Biographile
 
“A delicately rendered memoir that bathes the invariably painful past in a kind of gold-glowing tenderness. . . . There are plenty of memoirs that recount extraordinary circumstances and adventures, but I cannot think of one that so magically involves us in an exploration of the commonplace. A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip is a look back—not in vengeance, anger or even gloating—but in wonder at the miraculous variety of experience, and the ways we come to be ourselves.”
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
 
“Beautifully written. . . . The books rings awfully true . . . Brockmeier’s potent, honest prose makes for a vivid, funny and achingly familiar read.”
Arkansas Times

"Funny, gripping, and heartbreaking." 
Rain Taxi Review of Books

“Every book by Kevin Brockmeier is unsettling, strange, and impossible to forget. . . . He challenges the way we see the world. His latest, A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip, catapults us all back to middle school with time-machine perfection. . . . Heartbreakingly honest.”
—Caroline Leavitt, bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You

“In three acclaimed novels and two story collections, Brockmeier earned his reputation as a literary virtuoso attuned to the illusory facets of everyday life. His rollicking first memoir, centered on his formative year in the seventh grade, affirms his talents and explores their foundations. . . . In a hilariously vivid, novelistic chronicle of the mid-1980s, Brockmeier nails the awkward triumphs and life-affirming disasters of teenagedom, revealing the creative significance of what might otherwise seem banal.”
—Jonathan Fullmer, Booklist

“A truly stunning hybrid—a memoir told with the imaginative vibrancy and the uncanny precision of the best fiction. This book will floor you, and flood you with a torrent of your own memories from the terrifying, electric threshold between childhood and adulthood. If you're new to his work, this is a phenomenal place to start.”
—Karen Russell, bestselling author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove
 
“Brockmeier is surely one of our great writers. Here seventh grade is rendered in such lovingly vivid detail—the year is so perfectly remembered—that you feel, after reading it, that the memory in fact belongs to you. I loved it.”
—Ethan Rutherford, author of The Peripatetic Coffin


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1594 KB
  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0804169896
  • Publisher: Vintage (April 1, 2014)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FO5YFI4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,298 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Short and Breathtakingly Beautiful Memoir April 13, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Boys? Seventh Grade? Not subjects I care much about at my rather advanced age. However, Kevin Brockmeier is a favorite author of mine, so this book was a "must read" for me.
Kevin's memories of his year are haunting. I expected them to be well-written but I was taken by surprise by how moved I was and how much I cared about Kevin and his experience of this sometimes difficult age. His descriptions of the verbal cruelty that can be inflicted by our peers are painful. Brockmeier is a talented, sensitive writer, no matter what the subject. I consider him one of the best writers at work today.
I highly recommend this book if you are male or female and have ever been in seventh grade.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Ahh, seventh grade. There are not a lot of people, at least among those I know, who would choose to go back to that time in their lives. Kevin Brockmeier, though, decides to brave that very journey in his new work: A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip: A memoir of seventh grade. Unfortunately, while there are some beautiful moments in here, and some wonderful passages, there wasn’t quite enough here to justify an entire book in my mind. Even if it is a slim book, coming in at under 200 pages.

The memoir does exactly what it promises, taking us via third-person narration from just before young Kevin’s seventh grade starts and closing at the very end of the year. In between, we’re treated to many of the scenes that comprise the reasons most people don’t want to go back.

• The fear of always being one step (or more) out of touch: stickers used to be in, now they are not. Check.

• The embarrassment of saying the wrong thing: “But when Kevin makes the announcement, the others laugh and say, ‘Snack time?’ and ‘Hey, it’s time for snacks everyone, “ . . . until the drums in his head go click-click-click and snack time is safely stored away, added to the list of things it is impermissible to acknowledge or say.”

• The hierarchies of fashion: “Holes are cooler than no holes, buttons are cooler than zippers. Levi’s are cooler than Lees, Lees are cooler than Wranglers, and Wranglers are cooler than Toughskins. It has taken him longer than average, but he is learning.”

• The aching desire to nail down just who you are: “If only he could remember . . . his life would fit together without a single missing piece. Would snap flat and turn into a picture. Would look the way it does on the box.
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Middle School Boys April 5, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I read the description of this book and thought, "Yes, a way to get inside the head of my twelve-year-old son." He's been home schooled for 3 years and will soon return to public school for 7th grade. Having been a girl in 7th grade (ha ha), I don't know much about what middle school is like for boys.

My first reaction to this book, as I finished the first chapter, was: "Oh God, no, I was wrong, I don't want to be inside my son's head. If this is in his head, I am better off ignorant."

Cause, really, twelve-year-old boys seem overly preoccupied with penises and swear words.

So I gave up on the idea of getting inside my own kid's head and read this for it's own sake, as a good book where a character grows and changes over the course of the story. And I loved it. So many of the scenes took me back to Hopkins Middle School, being teased and tormented in ways I didn't even know how to put into words. Kids know how to make you miserable while looking like your friend. Friends sometimes seem like they want to make you miserable and you cannot tell where you stand with them at all. Good ideas turn into humiliations and humiliations somehow shape who you become.

Thank you, Kevin, for this open and honest memoir of 7th grade I salute you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay if You Can Relate April 16, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've read two of Kevin Brockmeier's novels ("The Illumination" and "The Brief History of the Dead") and they both bring interesting (almost far out) concepts to life in an entertaining and thoughtful way. This autobiography provides some insight into where some of those thoughts originated, but isn't nearly as interesting or entertaining as either novel.

"Radiant Filmstrip" covers Brockmeier's 7th grade school year (to include the summer preceding it). It's told in third person which makes it read more like a novel than an autobiography and weakens the story in my opinion. 7th grade Kevin comes across as a nerdy, intelligent kid with a big imagination who is often on the borderline of being bullied and/or ignored. He's a bit whiny and not nearly as likable or endearing as you'd think he'd be given the quality of the author's prior work. Certainly those who came of age in the 80s will find something they can relate to, but I found 7th grade Kevin less interesting or fun to spend time with than I anticipated. It's a quick read and does provide some insight into Brockmeier's powerful imagination, but it fell short of expectations.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very well done April 4, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Adolescence. A topic of comic misadventures, great tragedy, but a topic often not done very well. Kevin Brockmeier has distilled his seventh grade year into the essence of all the things others aspire to address in a simple, well written autobiography. Insecurity. Inexplicable changes of friendships and alliances. The inequities of puberty. The need to fit in, to belong. It is all here in this small volume of genuine. I enjoyed it very much and highly recommend it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
A good book about a moment in time that most of us usually would rather forget.
Published 7 months ago by chris hoffman
3.0 out of 5 stars good
While firmly rooted in its time, Brockheimer's "memoir" captures those universal aspects that link young teenagers across generations -- the awkwardness, the yearning to... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Yalensian
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh, to remember those days of youth, but not relive them.
I came across this book and found the premise to be quite interesting. After all, how many novels propose to revisit those years that were awkward and amazing all at once. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Narut Ujnat
3.0 out of 5 stars A character study
Easily a minor work of fiction. I kept thinking it was building to a climax...but no. At best a scintillating character study.
Published 10 months ago by Andrew Corley
4.0 out of 5 stars Painfully, excruciatingly familiar
If you have ever desired to relive the awkwardness and confusion of seventh-grade, this is the book for you. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved Loved Loved it
I couldn't agree with Entertainment Weekly more (which is where I first read about this book). What a little gem! Should be required reading in every school. Read more
Published 10 months ago by E. B. MULLIGAN
3.0 out of 5 stars Great memoir about the tribulations of seventh grade
This is the first I've heard of Kevin Brockmeier, but I really loved his memoir "A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip," where he writes about his year as a nerdy seventh... Read more
Published 10 months ago by silhouette_of_enchantment
3.0 out of 5 stars Immediate, Yet Somehow Distant
I've yet to find anyone willing to say that they actually enjoyed 7th grade. Braces, zits, height spurts, body changes and other uncharted territory all make for trauma at the time... Read more
Published 10 months ago by ck
3.0 out of 5 stars What's the big deal
The writing and character development was okay but certainly not up to the rave reviews it has received in multiple media outlets I frequent. Read more
Published 10 months ago by jc
4.0 out of 5 stars A memoir that reads like good fiction
After reading through a few chapters I was surprised to discover that this is actually a memoir chronicling the (minor) triumphs and tribulations of author, Kevin Brockmeier's... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Sibelius
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