On Sept. 20, the Departments of English and Rhetoric and Writing hosted a reading by local author Kevin Brockmeier. Brockmeier read from his latest novel, “The Illumination,” where a person’s wounds or illness begins to illuminate for everyone to see. The characters are no longer able hide their pains from the world.
His other novels include “The Brief History of the Dead,” “The Truth About Celia,” two story collections, “Things That Fall From the Sky” and “The View From the Seventh Layer,” and two books aimed at younger readers, “City of Names” and “Grooves: A Kind of Mystery.” He has also received the O. Henry Award three times, a Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEA grant among others. He also has taught at UALR and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Brockmeier, who lives in Little Rock, read to a crowd of about 150 in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall and signed books afterward. Marcia Smith, instructor of rhetoric and writing and associate director of the Donaghey Scholars Program, said that she once asked Brockmeier to meet with her book club in Hot Springs. “I told him there were only 15 people in the club, but he said that was okay and was happy to do it,” she said.
At the end of his reading, Brad Minnick, associate professor of English, told the crowd that Brockmeier was a “meticulous keeper of lists.” As evidence, Brockmeier announced that he had brought copies of a list of his 50 favorite books of all time to share with the audience. The list was organized alphabetically by author’s last time, and he put an asterisk beside his favorite books.
Charles Anderson, professor of rhetoric and writing, said that Brockmeier’s writing is a literary feast. “When I read ‘The Illumination,’ there were times that I could read only a few pages in a sitting, because there was so much to digest,” said Anderson. “His writing offers the kind of stylistic experience that forces readers to simply stop now and again to absorb and fully appreciate the beauty of the language.”