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The Illumination: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 1, 2011
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Enhance your reading group’s discussion of The Illumination with these group discussion questions. [PDF]
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Top Customer Reviews
The other concept that renders Brockmeier's work intriguing is a worldwide phenomenon that begins one evening (with no explanation) and causes people's emotional and physical pain to become visible as emanations of light. This phenomenon comes to be known as the "Illumination." It is this device that allows Brockmeier to explore the depths of his characters and the troubles they face in their lives. Each character is complex, experiencing his or her own individual pain against a backdrop of the suffering of others, all of which is visible because everyone's pain is manifest. The phenomenon gives people the capability for new levels of empathy, but it also gives rise to people who enjoy inflicting pain, whether masochistically on themselves or sadistically on others, in part because the infliction of pain is accompanied by a show of light.Read more ›
Brockmeier, however, isn't content with this one big poetic gesture. The novel is also tied together by a journal of love notes passed from character to character. And, in my opinion, it's one plot device too many. Just the Illumination or just the love journal might have worked for me--but together, the two elements struggle in overdrive, and often at cross purposes, to elicit deep meaning from mundane situations. "The Illumination" is really structured as six separate stories with the journal being the common denominator. The six recipients of the journal live within the world of The Illumination and each suffers from a pain or malaise--be it physical, spiritual, psychological or emotional.
The novel starts out with great promise. Here's a line-up of the characters and how, for me, they fit into the big picture.Read more ›
As for the title, it refers to the fact that light starts to emanate both from people's wounds and from their heartaches. The greater the pain, the greater the glow. The phenomena hits at about the time of the car accident, though the bullied boy, Chuck, was seeing it sooner -- even in abused inanimate objects. Does this link, or the journal, a novel make? Well, with the increasingly amorphous definition of "novel," who's to say? The Illumination appears to be a metaphor for the beauty of our suffering (cue compassion, a necessary ingredient). Thoreau said, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation," and Brockmeier seems to be saying, "Quiet, yes, but beautiful, when lit up like a Christmas tree." Maybe, then, when we can actually SEE each other's pain, we will care more.
If you are a fan of the short story, you might enjoy the bursts of fine writing that pop on like flashlights in the dark here.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Kept looking for some meaning, or at least some sense of what it was all about. I loved The Secret History of the Dead, but this book? Yuck. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
This man is such a talent, his ideas are mesmerizing. This is one of his best!Published 11 months ago by Bramwell
This was a fantastic read, filled with lush on point vocabulary. The character building and familiar threads running throughout the story, made me want to read well past my... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Laura
Had a hard time getting into this book, and ended up not liking it. Boring to me and I felt it didn't have a good ending?Published 22 months ago by Elizabeth Whalen
The author takes a thematic concept and awkwardly strings together a series of events. Theme alone does not yield plot. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Dawna Robertson
This is a little too weird for me. I'm having trouble staying with a group of folks who cut themselves for pain relief.Published on November 18, 2013 by Sara L. Orem
It was a great study on emotion, the ones we carry within us, and the ones we show, the ones others percieve as hard as we try to mask them. Beautiful.Published on October 7, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Things got a bit weird with relationships between the main character and this teenage girl... and it just made me uncomfortable. I didn't see the point of finishing the book. Read morePublished on October 2, 2013 by Allison L Palmer
I enjoyed the book to start, but felt it should have ended sooner.. the character link was good but just a bit scattered and confusing.Published on September 22, 2013 by alds