In the wise and beautiful second collection from the acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize-winning #1 New York Times bestselling author of All the Light We Cannot See, "Doerr writes about the big questions, the imponderables, the major metaphysical dreads, and he does it fearlessly" (The New York Times Book Review).
Set on four continents, Anthony Doerr's new stories are about memory, the source of meaning and coherence in our lives, the fragile thread that connects us to ourselves and to others. Every hour, says Doerr, all over the globe, an infinite number of memories disappear. Yet at the same time children, surveying territory that is entirely new to them, push back the darkness, form fresh memories, and remake the world.
In the luminous and beautiful title story, a young boy in South Africa comes to possess an old woman's secret, a piece of the past with the power to redeem a life. In "The River Nemunas," a teenage orphan moves from Kansas to Lithuania to live with her grandfather, and discovers a world in which myth becomes real. "Village 113," winner of an O'Henry Prize, is about the building of the Three Gorges Dam and the seed keeper who guards the history of a village soon to be submerged. And in "Afterworld," the radiant, cathartic final story, a woman who escaped the Holocaust is haunted by visions of her childhood friends in Germany, yet finds solace in the tender ministrations of her grandson.
Every story in Memory Wall is a reminder of the grandeur of life--of the mysterious beauty of seeds, of fossils, of sturgeon, of clouds, of radios, of leaves, of the breathtaking fortune of living in this universe. Doerr's language, his witness, his imagination, and his humanity are unparalleled in fiction today.
In multiple O. Henry Prize winner Doerr's latest (after Four Seasons in Rome), the presence and persistence of memory thematically binds stories set apart by vast distances of time and space. The title story finds a South African woman at the end of her life, taking part in a procedure that records her memories on cassettes; meanwhile, a pair of thieves rifles through the recordings, hoping to discover a secret her husband took to his grave. Bookending the collection is Afterword, about a woman in her final days whose seizures take her back to her youth in a Nazi-era Hamburg orphanage. In between are a couple of domestic stories, one about a village's impending erasure by flood, and another about a teenage orphan adapting to life with her grandfather. Doerr has an incredible sense of language and a skill for crafting beautiful phrases and apt metaphors, but he doesn't always connect with his characters, a shortcoming most obvious in the first-person pieces. For the bulk of the collection, though, Doerr's prose brings home the weight of his troubling thesis, that every hour... an infinite number of memories disappear, whole glowing atlases dragged into graves.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I believe Anthony Doerr truly has a gift for details, so much so, that the reader is drawn into each story and kept there much like a suspenseful novel. Such was the case with the stories in this book. All were beautifully written and all kept my interest until the very end, which in my case, is not an easy thing to do. I read this book so quickly and enjoyed it immensely. Looking forward to Mr. Doerr's next book!
This book is absolutely horrible. Pretentious, tedious writing that tries to veil the lack of imagination of its writer through convoluted language. Enormous energy is exerted in describing insignificant details which are sold to the reader as deep and meaningful observations, when in fact they have no meaning and just waste the readers time. As in most bad fiction writing the lack of actual events is not compensated by any internal substance. In one word: pseudo lethargy trash.