The Truth About Celia (Vintage Contemporaries) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

In this stunning novel-in-stories, Brockmeier takes on the role of another author entirely, a writer of fantasy, whose life has just been devastated by the disappearance of his daughter. Alternating between accounts of the people left behind, and fantastical stories written in the voice of a man suffering the worst kind of loss, this is a unique and unforgettable examination of grief by one of today's most imaginative writers.




While playing alone in her backyard one afternoon, seven-year-old Celia suddenly disappears while her father Christopher is inside giving a tour of their historic house and her mother Janet is at an orchestra rehearsal.

Utterly shattered, Christopher, a writer of fantasy and science fiction, withdraws from everyone around him, especially his wife, losing himself in his writing by conjuring up worlds where Celia still exists—as a child, as a teenager, as a young single mother—and revealing in his stories not only his own point of view but also those of Janet, the policeman in charge of the case, and the townspeople affected by the tragedy, ultimately culminating in a portrait of a small town changed forever. The Truth About Celia is a profound meditation on grief and loss and how we carry on in its aftermath.

About the Author

Kevin Brockmeier is the author of the story collection Things That Fall from the Sky and the children’s novel City of Names. He has published stories in many magazines and anthologies, including The New Yorker, The Georgia Review, McSweeney’s, and The Best American Short Stories, and his story “The Green Children” from The Truth About Celia was selected for The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. He has received the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award, an Italo Calvino Short Fiction Award, a James Michener—Paul Engle Fellowship, two O. Henry Awards (one of which was a first prize), and, most recently, an NEA grant. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Praise For…

“Emotional, heartbreaking and beautifully styled.” --San Francisco Chronicle

“Devastating and dazzling; in its painful fusion of pathos, fantasy and—ultimately—realism, Brockmeier’s heartbreaking book is reminiscent of The Lovely Bones."--Time Out

“Together, the eight stories, ranging from psychological realism to science fiction to supernatural fantasy, fall somewhere between a linked collection and a full-fledge novel, and their unvarying gracefulness takes some of the bite out of the sadness–perhaps to much. They go down more easily than, given the subject, they ought to.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Fierce and tightly imagined. . . . The Truth About Celia has all the austere ache of a cello suite. . . . [Brockmeier] proves himself a master of compassionate reach.” --The Boston Globe

“Affecting. . . . A dazzling fantasia on grief and time.” --Entertainment Weekly

“Each sentence is an elegy–a celebration of every heartbreaking detail that makes life beautiful and an exacting portrait of the bone-aching, irredeemable despair of loss. Every scene is a heart that throbs with both glorious, garrulous joy and profound, insurmountable sorrow. Like all of Kevin’s work, this book is exquisitely crafted and deeply evocative, and as a reader I am once again awed and moved to both desperation and delight.” --Thisbe Nissen, author of The Good People of New York

“A startlingly imaginative and empathetic work.” --The Miami Herald

“Brilliant. . . . beautifully written and relentlessly gripping. . . . The psychological devastation suffered by Janet and Christopher . . . is made excruciatingly tangible in [this] remarkable novel.” --Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Lyrical, magical, achingly bittersweet. . . . The mesmerizing whisper of Brockmeier’s prose [turns] skeptical readers into believers. The gentle, rolling pulse of these sentences make elegiac epiphanies out of Christopher’s grief-borne stream-of-consciousness. . . . For evoking this bleak estate with unflinching accuracy and honesty, Kevin Brockmeier deserves our praise.” --Newsday

“A compelling and intricate study of loss and acceptance.” --The Baltimore Sun

"Imagine I'm standing beside you in the bookstore. I'm putting this book in your hands. I loved The Truth About Celia: you should buy this book, take it home, and read it at once." --Kelly Link, author of Stranger Things Happen

“The gorgeous language and wealth of detail . . . elicit[s] from readers overwhelming feelings that lead to a catharsis. --The Commercial Appeal (Memphis)

“Outstanding. . . . Eloquently describes the pain of losing a child and the search for meaning in resistant fact and more resilient imagination. I highly recommend this book.” --John Hammond, The San Antonio Express-News

“Some of the most moving writing in the English language. . . . The pleasure of Brockmeier’s novel–and it is a deep pleasure indeed–comes from an excruciatingly poignant exploration of the effect of Brooks’ loss. . . . Fellow writers can only envy Brockmeier’s felicity with prose, his lyricism that aspires to great music. The Truth About Celia is modest in size but not in scope, and the magnificent prose lingers in memory long after the book is closed.” --Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Wrenching . . . You may never read a more beautifully written novel than this one.” --The Arkansas Times

Product Details
ISBN: 9780375727702
ISBN-10: 0375727701
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: July 13th, 2004
Pages: 240
Language: English
Series: Vintage Contemporaries