From Secret Garden Books in Seattle:
Suzanne’s Author Spot: Anthony Doerr
It was nearly ten years ago now, but my memory of reading for the first time ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE (Scribner, $18) is still clear. At the time, it was the pinnacle in a WWII reading binge I’d been on since LIFE AFTER LIFE (Back Bay Books, $18), Kate Atkinson’s masterpiece of the same era. I’d never read an author like this though.
ALL THE LIGHT brought me as I’ve never been brought before smack into the heart and soul of a blind person, yes absolutely. But it also brought me as I’ve never been brought before into so many other things too! Here is a short list: a part of a Paris neighborhood, behind the scenes of a a Natural History Museum, a centuries-old walled city on the coast of France, a school that takes in boys and churns out Nazis, the luxury apartment of a “displaced” Jew, the birth of radio technology across Europe, and most poignantly, the day-to-day reality of that unimaginable war, which swept up all of Europe. Heartbreaking and heart melting in equal measure, this is one gorgeous read, which communicates a beautiful truth about war without one whiff of falseness.
His newest one, CLOUD CUCKOO LAND (Scribner, $30) is, I daresay, even better! I am a lover of stories told literarily. This sounds strange, but many books, in fact, are not. I’m also a real lover of the”math” of a book adding up at the end. When tiny mentions early on in a story find gut-punch fruition at the end and you didn’t even know you were being set up for it. This book is riddled with these maths chunkings into place. It feels like the unfolding of a massive map, and each crease serves the one next to it, and they all add up to quite a wallop of a theme. Literally, in this case, as mapping software has a gorgeous, significant role! As do ancient artifacts! And early war machines! And set design! And public libraries!
This book, with its emphasis on the permanence of “our stories,” so cannily answers what ails us now, I cannot believe it. But when the pandemic is way back in our rearview, it will still reverberate gorgeously.
If you would like to see Anthony Doerr at the 2022 virtual Pacific Northwest Book Awards celebration, the program is online here.