The Shell Collector: Stories, by Anthony Doerr
Anthony Doerr is, no contest, one of my favorite writers. His sense of place, both in the world and in the complex emotions of humanity, always hits the mark. Though I’m not sure, I assume that Doerr is a world traveler; his intimate knowledge of landscapes, flora, and fauna from the coast of Kenya to the hills of Liberia, all the way to the frozen winters of Montana are so intricate, so detailed, you can’t help but be immersed in the places these stories take you. I can’t imagine him not having visited, walked upon, and experienced these places firsthand — he takes the reader there to see, touch, taste, and feel these places as if we are right there with him.
Doerr’s collection of eight short stories spans the globe, and also the journeys of people very different from one another. He immerses us in the human experience while inserting interesting, almost mythological magic to each story. I tried to choose a favorite story to highlight here, but come up short. Each is touching and beautiful in its own right; I could not pick a favorite.
I try to pin down what I love about Doerr’s writing, and I think for me it comes down to his ability to showcase the magic in nature, in the diversity and beauty of the world, without forgetting that we humans are a part of that world. His knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the natural world is vast and intoxicating. This book has already soared to the top of my favorites.