Sunday, September 21, 2014

"All The Light We Cannot See"

This novel by Anthony Doerr is a pleasure to read.  That is not to say that the book isn't a challenge.  The richly imagined story of two young people in the time of World War II, one a French girl who is blind and one a German boy who is an orphan, and how their lives become briefly intertwined, requires attention.  The novel begs to be understood and made consequential, and the effort can be rewarded.

"All The Light We Cannot See", amazingly, has been on the New York Times bestseller list for the last 18 weeks.  That a real literary novel achieves that in 2014 is rare.  The other Doerr book read here was "Memory Wall", a stunningly written group of short stories that were interlinked by the theme of memory.  Comments on that book were written here on August 22, 2010 and August 19th 2010.

That theme of memory is carried on in this latest book, as characters make their indelible imprint on others that is carried on throughout the story, and by implication beyond.  Doerr's descriptions of pre-occupation Paris, the walled Breton citadel of Saint Malo to which the Parisian characters flee, an orphanage in a German mining town, and the Nazi youth military academy that becomes a brutal alternative to lead to a more fulfilling future, all bring to life the story as if it could be non-fiction instead of fiction.

It will only take a few pages for a reader to understand whether this is a novel for them.  The writing is such an attraction that the beautiful unfolding of the multi-faceted story is just a bonus.  Doerr's talent is undeniable.      

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