In Kevin Brockmeier's first novel, The Truth About Celia, the author uses a mixed palette of genres to paint a world where "there are worse things than being dead." In the guise of his central figure, science-fiction writer Christopher Brooks, Brockmeier intelligently and heartbreakingly weaves together a series of stories that search for the truth about the missing Celia.

While playing one day in her backyard with her father busy giving a tour of their historic house, and her mother, Janet, off at an orchestra rehearsal seven-year-old Celia disappears. One minute she is tightrope-walking along an ancient stone wall, and the next, she is mysteriously gone. A police investigation ensues, and all the right people are questioned, but nothing not a shred of evidence turns up. Out of desperation, Christopher Brooks turns to his writing to console himself, and at the same time, explore the many repercussions of Celia's disappearance. What he creates or rather what Brockmeier creates is truly magical. The stories that make up The Truth About Celia track not just the search for what happened to the missing child, but the reactions of those involved in Celia's life. Brockmeier's prose hauntingly ventures beyond the mundane and into places that only a grieving mind can go. With beautiful attention to detail ("the water trickled into the cup in two thin strands that joined and spindled about each other") and clear respect for language, Brockmeier has penned an extraordinary first novel. Delving into the toll of grief and pain, he exposes the truths that lie behind life's sometimes horrible realities.

T.A. Grasso lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

 

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