— R E V I E W —
"Every six hours the tides plowed shelves of beauty onto the beaches of the world, and here he was, able to walk out into it, thrust his hands into it, spin a piece of it between his fingers. To gather up seashells - each one in amazement - to know their names, to drop them into a bucket: this was what filled his life, what overfilled it."
I've figured it out. I know where this obsession is coming from.
Anthony Doerr is the David Attenborough of the literary world.
Given my Attenborough love affair, this is a big, big call, I know, but read just a page or two, and you'll get it. Doerr's stories are a love affair with nature, laden with detail and fact in equal portions – like an Attenborough documentary type journey, making you fall in the love with the beauty of the world, and teaching you about it along the way. I can't imagine how long Doerr spends researching each story, but it's so worthwhile - knowledge seeps from every page in the most beautiful way.
The Shell Collector is the first in Doerr's short story collective, his debut book, also called The Shell Collector. So far, I've only read this story, but there are eight in total... so plenty more reviews (and illustrations!) to come! The Shell Collector tells the story of a blind malacologist (shell scientist) living on a tiny island in Kenya, studying shells whilst collecting them for a mainland museum. Each day he wades out onto the shallow reef and searches the corals with his fingertips, almost instantly identifying his finds by touch. The richness in Doerr's language means you feel the ridges, valleys, swirls of the shells alongside the protagonist as he collects...
Along the way, there is love, heartbreak and miracles — it's a quick read, coming in at 35 pages, but a powerful one.
Another wonderful thing about Doerr's writing is the Easter eggs — in The Shell Collector you can see the footprints leading to All The Light We Cannot See. Both title characters are blind, and just as The Shell Collector studies shells, Marie-Laure would spend her days in the shell sections of The Museum of Natural History, running her fingers over the grooves and twists...
So, the Doerr love continues...
I've acquired all but one of his books now (Memory Wall, I'm coming for you), and am slowing working my way through them. Damn, if I can write even HALF this good one day, I'll be content. With each review, I'll be creating illustrations to go along with them, too.
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'til next time x