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Book Review – The Shell Collector

tumblr_o6kks9Eb2Y1vrl6bso3_500This book was so beautiful. But would you expect anything less from All the Light We Cannot See’s author, Anthony Doerr?

I am so obsessed with him, I tried in vain to find a social media account in which I could obsessively make contact with him like a psychotic human and the planet Mars, but alas, it seems that I will just have to do with loving him from afar and talking him up to friends and family, I might never be satisfied though.

So The Shell Collector is essentially a book full of short stories, though I really do believe one of them could have been a novella. This one being that very last installment. 

Every story was beautiful, some short, some long, some not long enough, some that left me reeling from the bright and deeply moving language. PLEASE SEE ABOVE PHOTO. HOW DOES A HUMAN WRITE LIKE THAT??? AND NOT ONLY WRITE LIKE THAT, BUT MAINTAIN THAT PROWESS FOR 224 PAGES???

I’m a writer and after I finished this book I returned to my own WIP (work in progress for all you non-writers) to assess and I was so deeply disappointed with myself. Though, of course, that’s not really fair for me to say because my WIP is in a whole different category. But The Shell Collector is just an imaginative work that no writer will ever be able to top. 

“He dreamed of glass, of miniature glass-blowers making cone teeth like tiny snow-needles, like the thinnest bones of fish, vanes on the arms of a snowflake.”

I’m not kidding about this. NEVER. BE ABLE. TO TOP.

Though don’t let that stop you from trying, the world needs more writers like Anthony Doerr, more people who can paint a picture so vivid with just his words, who can create a whole world in one single, seven-lined paragraph. The setting of this book–or should I say multiple settings–made me miss these described places as if I had been there at one time myself. I was nostalgic for Africa, for Maine, for… IDAHO. 

You get the picture. 

Favorite Stories: 

  • “The Hunter’s Wife”

Set in Montana

A man falls in love with a magician’s assistant who has special powers that anger him so, eventually driving her away.

  • “So Many Chances” – My personal favorite of The Favorites

Set in Maine

A young girl moves, with her lying, imaginative father and deeply unmoved mother, to Maine where she meets a young boy and learns to fly fish and attempts to breathe life back into her dwindling home.

  • “For a Long Time This Was Griselda’s Story”

Set in Idaho

The main character’s sister abandons her after falling in love with a traveling Metal-Eater, thus inducing a story built solely around a life that never seems good enough, though the main character’s valiant attempts bring it somewhere close.

  • “The Caretaker”

Set in Oregon

Joseph, a refugee of Liberian war, relocates to Oregon, where he fails at the simple task of keeping snow off an estate’s roof, which makes him wonder about his incompetence, because instead of dealing with the snow, he digs hearts out of beached whales and buries them, eventually growing a garden on top of this whale-heart grave after being fired as caretaker of the estate for obvious reasons.

  • “Mkondo”

Set equal parts in Ohio and a Tanzanian rainforest

An archaeologist falls in love with a wild Tanzanian woman, essentially taming her and dragging her back to Ohio where her wild nature is deeply unsatisfied.

Incredible book. I have nothing more to say about it. It was incredible. Bravo, Anthony.



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