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The Shell Collector: Stories Paperback – January 4, 2011
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The exquisitely crafted stories in Anthony Doerr’s debut collection take readers from the African Coast to the pine forests of Montana to the damp moors of Lapland, charting a vast physical and emotional landscape. Doerr explores the human condition in all its varieties—metamorphosis, grief, fractured relationships, and slowly mending hearts—conjuring nature in both its beautiful abundance and crushing power. Some of the characters in these stories contend with hardships; some discover unique gifts; all are united by their ultimate deference to the ravishing universe outside themselves.
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“Doerr’s prose dazzles, his sinewy sentences blending the naturalists’ unswerving gaze with the poet’s gift for metaphor.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Anthony Doerr is a gifted and fearless new writer. He is absolutely unafraid to take on the biggest themes of the human condition, always writing about heroes and their various epic journeys. The Shell Collector is unforgettable—not so much a book of short stories as a book of short myths.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
About the Author
- Publisher : Scribner (January 4, 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1439190054
- ISBN-13 : 978-1439190050
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.64 x 8.44 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #18,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Anthony Doerr is a word magician. His prose is lyrical, his observation of Nature awe inspiring and his characters memorable. I was enchanted by each story in this book. It is by far the best collection of short stories I have ever read.
From the tropical heat of Africa in the first story, (from which the book title is taken,) to the frozen winters of Montana, the foggy coast of Maine or grim Lithuanian cities, the author transports you with consummate ease. His writing is so beautiful, I wanted to read and re-read many passages. I know I shall return to these stories again and again. The spirituality or magical realism of his work gives added depth to each beautifully crafted piece.
But he saves the best for last. 'Mkondo' is a masterpiece of short story writing. He captures the contrasts between the life of the wild Tanzanian girl and that of the American city man to perfection. To give more away would be to spoil a reader's anticipation.
Just purchase this collection. I promise you won't regret it!
to create rich dimensional characters that live on in the reader long after the book has ended. Don't miss his novels or short works.
"Then she sees the fisherman. Just to her left. Wading. As if he came from nowhere. From nothing. From the sea itself."
The other challenge that I found interesting is that the author does not use quotation marks for dialog. A few times it tripped me up but its main effect is a slowing down of one's reading speed which I don't object to. I like to slow down at times to more fully enjoy a writer's style but it did take a little time to get used to.
The one issue I could bring up is that as I progressed through the stories, I felt I could predict the author.
As far as reviews that the stories had no endings (leaving the readers unsatisfied or confused), I totally disagree. An author does not have to wrap a story up into a neat and tidy box. The story, A Tangle by the Rapid River, has an ending that implies the main character's life is unraveling from an unexpected event earlier in the day. One can easily picture what he is facing ahead, quite symbolic of infidelity.
On the other hand, several stories do have endings that require just a tad bit of reading between the lines: The Shell Collector, For a Long Time This Was Griselda's Story, July Fourth, and The Caretaker. Nothing the matter with putting a book down and spending a moment reflecting and then going back and rereading the ending to gather up a few more clues to how the story wraps up.
In many cases, reading earlier works of an author who has produced later masterpieces can be a slight letdown, but for me that wasn't the case with The Shell Collector. Vivid, interesting, thought-provoking ... I'd recommend this collection whether this is your first exposure to Doerr, or whether you've read other works by him already.