Writers’ Workshop alum to read new novel


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Author Kevin Brockmeier likes to write at his desk and chair in a room filled with wooden bookshelves.

“I’m a creature of habit,” he said. “It’s hard for me to write anywhere but with my desk and my bookshelves surrounding me.”

Not only does Brockmeier’s office double as a personal library, he has bookcases scattered throughout his home in Little Rock, Ark.

“Anywhere I can have a bookcase, I do,” the author said.

Brockmeier, a graduate of the Writers’ Workshop, will read from his latest novel, The Illumination, at 7 p.m. today at Prairie Lights Books, 15 S. Dubuque St. Admission is free.

The Illumination explores the idea of a world in which people who are in pain generate light. The Illumination is composed of six sections, each focusing on one of six people who suffer from injuries. The characters are loosely connected by a diary that accidentally gets into each of their hands. The diary, which contains letters a man wrote to his wife, helps soothe each of the characters.

“I was hoping that these half dozen perspectives, when put together, would look at these themes and ideas that I was trying to explore from a multitude of angles,” Brockmeier said.

He got the idea for the book from a series of meditations he had about the purpose of pain.

“What if our pain was the most beautiful thing about us? What if our pain was the thing that made us beautiful to God, and if that was true, what would that say about us and the world and how we interact with each other?” the 38-year-old said.

During the series of meditations Brockmeier thought of a person who glowed from the pain of his injuries. This image ultimately gave the author the concept for the book.

Paul Ingram, Prairie Lights’ book buyer, said The Illumination is unlike anything he’s read.

“I think this may be his best book,” Ingram said. “It’s about a time in the near future, the speculative present, when pain becomes beautiful.”

Brockmeier hopes readers ask themselves questions about pain and the purpose of pain like he did while writing the book.

The Illumination is Brockmeier’s third adult novel, his others being The Truth About Celia and The Brief History of the Dead. Josefine Kals, Brockmeier’s publicist, said The Illumination rings true to the high quality of the author’s previous works.

“The reviews of his previous books speak for themselves regarding his unique talent and innovativeness, and his loyal readers will not be disappointed by this latest novel, already being praised by critics around the country,” Kals said.

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