Just when you thought that everything that can be overcome already has been overcome in some memoir or other — war, poverty, illness, injustice, and so on — Kevin Brockmeier dredges up the most traumatic hell ride of them all: seventh grade, in A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip.
Filmstrip is a funny, poignant oddity. (I’m referring to the book in shorthand, because the full title sounds like a Fiona Apple album.) Brockmeier writes about himself in the third person, which is fitting given his premise that you enter seventh grade an entirely different person than you exit it. The memoir may resonate best with folks in their early 40s, but there’s something here for you as long as you remember being 12, having disloyal friends, and wondering when the opposite sex was going to discover how cool you were. The second half of Filmstrip loses some of its centrifugal force. But the prose is always a pleasure, and our little underdog hero is so likable that you’re relieved just to be holding the book in your hands: It’s proof that he turned out okay. A-