I like to read high concept books, simply based off of their premise. In The Brief History of the Dead, we see two parallel stories. First, are the people living in the space between their life on Earth and whatever comes next. They believe they only exist in the inbetween for as long as someone on earth remembers them. And second, we see a young woman, living in Antarctica, as the rest of the world dies from a plague.
The premise alone makes the book worth reading. It’s unique, and Brockmeier does a great job exploring the intricacies and logistics of how this type of passing on would actually work. And the descriptions of how people slide from their earthly life into the next are amazing, beautiful, incredibly creative.
What really struck a chord with me is the idea of trying to figure out how many people you know, or are acquainted with. We can catalog our lives much easier with social networking, but beyond your 500 or 1,000 Facebook friends are probably 10,000 other people you’ve met at some point in your life.