Anthony Doerr? Didn’t he write that historical fiction novel everyone was talking about last year- All the Light We Cannot See? Yes, and I still haven’t read it. Before potentially picking up something I might not like I decided to read Doerr’s short stories to see if I like his writing style. This collection is very focused on the natural world and nature is often contrasted against civilization. Water also seems to be a recurring theme. Now, onto the ratings!
The Shell Collector – 4/5
The hermit shell collector stumbles upon a possible cure-all, but its discovery disrupts his way of life and goes against his knowledge of shells. I want this to be a full length novel! The ending leaves me questioning- what happens next to the old man and the young girl? My only complaint is that I want more and particularly more focus on the events near the end. Those events are more interesting than the first half of the story.
The Hunter’s Wife – 4/5
The hunter is a simple man and is confused by his wife’s strange power. This power divides them to a point of nearly breaking them both. This story feels like a fairy tale and I again found myself wanting more. Instead of just craving more of the story I feel like this one is a touch underdeveloped. It could use a little more depth and characterization, but it is still a very touching and mysterious tale.
So Many Chances – 3/5
This one is a coming of age story about a girl named Dorotea. Dorotea moves to Maine with her family for a fresh start. She discovers boys, nature, and fishing. These things help distract her from a troubled family life. I like many things about this story, but I don’t feel like I really “got it.” That could easily be my fault, but it feels slightly lacking in clarity near the end and it just doesn’t catch my interest as much as others in this collection.
For a Long Time This Was Griselda’s Story – 5/5
Such a quirky story! Griselda is a great character. She and her sister are polar opposites. Griselda is tall, athletic, and adventurous while her sister Rosemary is short, plump, and suited for everyday life. Griselda runs off with a circus performer leaving her mother, sister, and the whole town questioning her actions. The perspective of this story is so unique. It is told from the eyes of the townspeople- sort of. This adds a layer of mystery and myth to the story.
July Fourth – 2/5
Two groups of fishermen- Americans and British- argue about who are better anglers. The decide to having a fishing contest. The story follows the Americans. I simply found this story boring. It was OK, but just not my cup of tea. I didn’t see that much depth in it despite a few interesting scenes.
The Caretaker – 2/5
Another low rated one for me. Again, I just didn’t enjoy this one. It was sad and heartfelt, but I did not connect with it for some reason. It tells the story of Joseph and his mother during a time of war. Joseph does many things to survive and sees many horrors on his way to find home.
A Tangle by the River – 1/5
Mulligan is a fisherman who is unhappy with his marriage. He is an older man, but another woman has caught his interest. This story is so short and forgettable. I also feel like it doesn’t really go anywhere. It could really use some more development. Some elements of this story feel repetitive because they are similar to the previous ones.
Mkondo – 5/5
A great story to end the collection with! Ward is digging up a fossil in Africa when he has a memorable meeting with a strange and wild woman. After an unusual courtship he asks her to marry him. He wants to take her back home to suburban Ohio, but can she be happy there? This felt like a fairy tale too. It has a great love story, memorable characters, and an inspiring message.