Reading Room: The Illumination

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The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier.

Kevin Brockheimer’s book details the emotional and physical wounds that are highlighted by a phenomena dubbed “The Illumination”. In the world he’s created, every wound shines with varying shapes and intensities of light dependent on the injury’s severity.

The book is broken up into six parts, each part from the viewpoint of a character that has come into contact with a journal from the first section if the book. In the first section a woman accidentally cuts herself while opening a box from her ex-husband containing her alimony check. When she gets to the hospital, her thumb starts glowing with light, which she assumes is a hallucination from the drugs she’s been given. It turns out that everyone in the world is experiencing these illuminated wounds. When she’s readmitted a little while later with complication arising from her initial visit, she makes the acquaintance of a womb dying from injuries sustained in a car crash. The woman assumes her husband, who was driving the car, is dead and bequeaths the journal she kept of his mash notes to her during their marriage to the woman that cut herself. From here every character comes into contact with the book. The dead accident victim’s husband. The neighbor boy who believes the book is wounded and steals it from the husband.

Each section is filled with precise little details about people’s daily lives and the ways in which we inflict pain on each other. I’m finding this book both haunting and beautiful in equal measure and can’t recommend it enough.

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