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At age twelve, Kevin Brockmeier is ready to become a different person: not the boy he has always been—the one who cries too easily and laughs too easily, who lives in an otherland of sparkling daydreams and imaginary catastrophes—but someone else altogether.
Over the course of one school year—seventh grade—he sets out in search of himself. Along the way, he happens into his first kiss at a church party, struggles to understand why his old friends tease him at the lunch table, becomes the talk of the entire school thanks to his Halloween costume, and booby-traps his lunch to deter a thief.
With the same deep feeling and oddly dreamlike precision that are the hallmarks of his fiction, the acclaimed novelist now explores the dream of his own past and recovers the person he used to be.
“Brockmeier’s graceful and roundly empathetic ode to seventh grade. . . . Like a GPS programmed to the heart and soul, he hones in on the membranous dividing line between camaraderie and cruelty that can make adolescent bonding such a hotbed of confusion.” —The Boston Globe
“Will bring every cringe-inducing memory rushing right back. . . . Brockmeier’s prose zips through Kevin’s busy teenage mind with alacrity. . . . His whiz-bang imagination and storytelling abilities will lead him away from bullies and to a better place—the proof sits in the reader’s hands.” —Time Out New York, 4 stars
“Kevin Brockmeier’s novels and stories are powered by brilliant, magical ideas. . . . Even in the realm of nonfiction, life for Kevin Brockmeier is a vivid and occasionally surreal dream. Like Brockmeier’s other work, A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip is infused with wonder, recited in a gentle voice, and threaded with a trace of sadness. . . . A captivating reincarnation of his vanishing childhood.” —The Rumpus
“A meeting of young-adult fiction’s sensitive treatment of the emotional lives of young people (a la Louise Fitzhugh and Judy Blume) with the raw honesty and nostalgia we associate with online writing. Radiant Filmstrip is old-fashioned and contemporary at once, relevant because we've been there and we are there. . . . This is the beauty of the book because it's the beauty of being young and naive: every moment, no matter how mundane, is a potential thrill.” —Gawker
“[A] beautiful reflection on a pivotal school year. . . . Wholly familiar. . . . More intimate and honest than many a first person recounting of a life. . . . An engaging personal story and a significant artistic accomplishment.” —Iowa Gazette
“Masterful. . . . This is painful stuff—and important and beautifully written stuff, in Brockmeier’s hands—worthy of your time and attention. It’s insightful, relayed at a propulsive clip, and captures the complicated inner life of a seventh grader with more unflinching precision than anything you’ll read on the subject. This book will help you.” —Biographile
“A delicately rendered memoir that bathes the invariably painful past in a kind of gold-glowing tenderness. There is a huge empathy moving beneath these pages, a kindly intelligence that notes and investigates—that susses and groks—each tort committed and indignity endured. . . . What may be most remarkable about this slim book is that, though it is specific and precise . . . it tells us a truth to which all of us can relate. There are plenty of memoirs that recount extraordinary circumstances and adventures, but I cannot think of one that so magically involves us in an exploration of the commonplace. A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip is a look back—not in vengeance, anger or even gloating—but in wonder at the miraculous variety of experience, and the ways we come to be ourselves.” —Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
“Beautifully written. . . . The books rings awfully true. . . . Brockmeier’s potent, honest prose makes for a vivid, funny and achingly familiar read.” —Arkansas Times
“Every book by Kevin Brockmeier is unsettling, strange, and impossible to forget. . . . He challenges the way we see the world. His latest, A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip, catapults us all back to middle school with time-machine perfection. . . . Heartbreakingly honest.” —Caroline Leavitt, bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You
“Brockmeier’s evocative, gracefully written memoir so beautifully captures a slice of our lives many may be tempted to write about, but few want to remember. . . . Brockmeier also does an excellent job anchoring his memoir in time without limiting its appeal only to those who came of age in that decade. In his fiction, Brockmeier has shown he’s a versatile prose stylist, and he makes the transition to memoir without sacrificing that quality. . . . Lovely.” —Bookreporter
“In three acclaimed novels and two story collections, Brockmeier earned his reputation as a literary virtuoso attuned to the illusory facets of everyday life. His rollicking first memoir, centered on his formative year in the seventh grade, affirms his talents and explores their foundations. . . . In a hilariously vivid, novelistic chronicle of the mid-1980s, Brockmeier nails the awkward triumphs and life-affirming disasters of teenagedom, revealing the creative significance of what might otherwise seem banal.” —Jonathan Fullmer, Booklist
“A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip is 1) a truly stunning hybrid—a memoir told with the imaginative vibrancy and the uncanny precision of the best fiction 2) a coming-of-age story that feels absolutely universal, even as Mr. Brockmeier's retrospective eye is grass-blade-precise about his own particulars 3) hilarious 4) devastating 5) awesome-beyond-all-adjectives. If you are already a Kevin Brockmeier fan, this book will floor you, and flood you with a torrent of your own memories from the terrifying, electric threshold between childhood and adulthood. If you're new to his work, this is a phenomenal place to start.” —Karen Russell, bestselling author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove
“In A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip, Brockmeier—surely one of our great writers—has captured perfectly that hinge-creak, aching moment in adolescence when you are alive to everything, but comprehend very little of it—when the joy of figuring out who and what you are collides with the dawning of shame and embarrassment and self-consciousness. When there is a lot of feeling, but very little understanding. In other words: 7th grade. Here that particular year is rendered in such lovingly vivid detail—the year is so perfectly remembered—that you feel, after reading it, that the memory in fact belongs to you. I loved it.” —Ethan Rutherford, author of The Peripatetic Coffin