Once there was a city where everyone had the gift of song.
Once there was a city where people did not look one another in the eye.
Once there was a man who happened to buy God’s overcoat.
The View from the Seventh Layer is a rich, ethereal collection: here are fables, ghost stories, romances (among them a sci-fi adaptation of “The Lady with the Pet Dog”), personal histories, anxieties of influence, and spiritual bursts — even a choose-your-own-adventure for the soul. These stories unfold in worlds just shy of our own, where metaphors take literal form. Each explores the consequences of sharing a powerful connection (no matter how fleeting) with another person; with oneself; with the universe. The camera pans in and out, in and out, from character studies of startling specificity to Big Themes, and back again. Kevin Brockmeier’s imagination is seemingly boundless, as is his empathy. (He must read a lot of fiction.) I also highly recommend his 2006 novel, The Brief History of the Dead.