Could Anthony Doerr be the Attenborough of the literary world?
I recently finished The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr. After reading his book, All The Light We Cannot See last year and adoring it, I had very high hopes for this one. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. The Shell Collector is a collection of short stories ranging from a tale about a young woman who runs away to join the circus and the impact it has on her single mother and sister, to the account of a hunter whose wife discovers she has an almost mystical power and the path that leads their lives down. While there isn't a line of continuity from one story to the next, the journey that the book takes is uniquely its own and the collection as a whole is a thing of indescribable beauty.
Doerr has a wonderful talent for describing the natural world with an Attenborough-like flair. While I normally shy away from short stories, I was thrilled to find that Doerr's work was as astounding as ever, even in short form. Several stories lingered in my mind for quite some time after reading them. The story for which the book is titled is one that especially resonated with me. I relish stories that describe scenes in nature as if every detail is of utmost importance, and The Shell Collector succeeded in this feat without losing interest or dragging on. The character development that Doerr is able to accomplish in under 20 pages is astounding. I felt a connection to each character in the stories that he included, simply because it seems as if they are, each and every one, completely necessary to the story as a whole. Each person has their role to play.
All in all, if you enjoy vibrant characters that may be more than they seem at first glance, detailed descriptions of beautiful scenes in the natural world, or you're looking for a story that will leave you up at night pondering the endings, The Shell Collector fits all of the qualifications.
Maddie Dauterman lives in Issaquah, WA
with her husband and cat. On most days you can find her reading, baking, or exploring in nature.