About Grace

( 20 )

Overview

Anthony Doerr is the author of the New York Times #1 Bestseller All the Light We Cannot See, named one of the best books of 2014 by the Washington Post, NPR's Fresh Air, and The New York Times Book Review, among others. The Los Angeles Times called his stories in The Shell Collector "as close to faultless as any writer—young or vastly experienced—could wish for." About Grace, his first novel, has been hailed as one of the most compelling and entrancing novels of recent...

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Overview

Anthony Doerr is the author of the New York Times #1 Bestseller All the Light We Cannot See, named one of the best books of 2014 by the Washington Post, NPR's Fresh Air, and The New York Times Book Review, among others. The Los Angeles Times called his stories in The Shell Collector "as close to faultless as any writer—young or vastly experienced—could wish for." About Grace, his first novel, has been hailed as one of the most compelling and entrancing novels of recent times.

David Winkler begins life in Anchorage, Alaska, a quiet boy drawn to the volatility of weather and obsessed with snow. Sometimes he sees things before they happen—a man carrying a hatbox will be hit by a bus; Winkler will fall in love with a woman in a supermarket. When David dreams that his infant daughter will drown in a flood as he tries to save her, he comes undone. He travels thousands of miles, fleeing family, home, and the future itself, to deny the dream.

On a Caribbean island, destitute, alone, and unsure if his child has survived or his wife can forgive him, David is sheltered by a couple with a daughter of their own. Ultimately it is she who will pull him back into the world, to search for the people he left behind.

Doerr's characters are full of grief and longing, but also replete with grace. His compassion for human frailty is extraordinarily moving. In luminous prose, he writes about the power and beauty of nature and about the tiny miracles that transform our lives. About Grace is heartbreaking, radiant, and astonishingly accomplished.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This mesmerizing novel is pitch perfect... utterly unforgettable." —Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"An extended meditation on the tides and eddies of life itself, spun out in sentences that never fail to thrill." —Los Angeles Times

"One of those novels that works its way into your very dreams." —Newsday

"Gorgeous, transporting, and deeply, deeply satisfying." —Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club

Neel Mukherjee
Doerr traverses again the territory he had marked out in the stories of his lucent first book, the short-story collection 'The Shell Collector: a rapture with nature expressed in prose that sings off the page; an infinitely subtle algebra of resonance and sympathy between minds, lives, objects, light, senses, weather; the majestic indifference of nature; the proper measure of man against natural forces. Doerr has a compulsion for observation and a passion for nature that borders on the religious.
— The New York Times
Margot Livesey
… as I turned the pages of About Grace, I realized how fully I had come to believe in [Winkler], how much I wanted him to reconnect with Sandy and Grace; I felt myself, like Winkler in his dreams, in the presence of an experience. As I neared the end, I read more and more slowly, increasingly reluctant to leave him and his intricately imagined world behind. Happily, now that the last page has been turned, I find I haven't: Winkler, with all his virtues and foibles, has taken up residence in my brain.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
The majesty of nature, the meaning of courage, the redemptive power of love and the pathos of isolation--all are gracefully explored in Doerr's story of the price paid for a gift. So why does so little seem to happen in this beautiful, ponderous and sometimes monotonous first novel by the author of the exquisite collection The Shell Collector? David Winkler has seen glimpses of the future ever since he was a boy. As a 32-year-old hydrologist in Anchorage, Alaska, he dreams of his future wife; soon they meet, fall in love and run away to Ohio, where she gives birth to their daughter, Grace. But when he dreams that he fails to save Grace from a flood, Winkler abandons wife and child, hoping to flee the future. He becomes a hermetic handyman on a Caribbean island near St. Vincent, befriended by a local family. The years pass until, emboldened by his surrogate family's grown daughter, a gifted marine biologist, Winkler realizes that he must embark on a journey to discover if Grace is alive. This is a lyrical tale tuned a bit too fine: Doerr's dreamy prose accords more attention to nature than character, so that Winkler, transfixed by the wonders of water and snowflakes but singularly unreflective about his actual life, is a frustratingly opaque protagonist. There are gorgeous moments here, but a stifling lack of story. Agent, Wendy Weil. 9-city author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
As in his stunning short story collection The Shell Collector, Doerr explores human connections and the natural world in his first novel. Nature's power is a major character in its own right, fascinating a lonely young Alaskan named David Winkler. Obsessed with the mysteries of weather, David pursues a career in meteorology and is seemingly the ultimate scientific nerd-except for dreams since childhood that have regularly and accurately portrayed events before they happen, including the sudden death of a stranger and David's first meeting with the love of his life. When a recurring nightmare depicts the drowning of his baby daughter, Grace, the terrified father exiles himself for a quarter-century in a frantic attempt to change the future. His tragicomic odyssey in the Caribbean and across the United States before his return to Alaska plays out in ways that would defy the most gifted medium to predict. With clear, precise writing, Doerr creates cinematic images of gorgeous landscapes and of the highly individualistic characters who populate David's circle of acquaintances in this unusual tale. Recommended for most fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/04.]-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A compelling protagonist and a lyrical style grounded in precise observation of the physical world: these are the hallmarks of Idaho author Doerr's complex, ambitious first novel. As in the stories of his highly praised debut (The Shell Collector, 2002), Doerr explores the tensions between scientific objectivity and emotional vulnerability-here in the story of David Winkler, a trained hydrologist whose understanding of predictability in natural process is unsettled by mysteries that unfold from his own nature. For David experiences prophetic dreams of mischance occurring in both humdrum and catastrophic forms. We first meet him on an airplane when, at age 59, he's returning to the US from 25 years of self-exile and servitude in the Caribbean Grenadine Islands. Working through extended flashbacks that comprise most of the text here, Doerr patiently fills in the blanks. Growing up a scholarly, solitary youth in Anchorage, Alaska, David "dreamed" his chance meeting with the woman he would wed-then, finding her unhappily married, persuaded her to accompany him to a new life in Ohio. Fathering a daughter (Grace), then dreaming the flood in which he himself accidentally drowns her, David fled his marriage and future, booked passage on a Caribbean-bound steamer, then spent an embattled quarter-century laboring to return to obligations he had shed, meanwhile acquiring a new "family" and a second chance at happiness. About Grace possesses a seductive symbolic intensity, and abounds with gorgeous descriptions and metaphors ("The sea teething" on a coral reef; "the million distant candles of the stars"). But it's much too long, and is significantly marred by its climactic momentum toward areconciliation that simply isn't very credible. Its protagonist's loneliness, regret, and guilt are painfully palpable, and go a long way toward making this risky book work-but, in the end, aren't enough. A bold attempt, nevertheless, by a gifted writer whose own future looms promisingly indeed. Author tour. Agent: Wendy Weil/Wendy Weil Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143036166
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/27/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 25,564
  • Product dimensions: 5.08 (w) x 7.78 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller All the Light We Cannot See. His stories have also appeared in numerous publications, including the O. Henry Prize Stories, Atlantic Monthly, Zoetrope: All Story, and The Paris Review. His first book, The Shell Collector, was published in 2002 and recently was awarded the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize and the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award.

He lives in Boise, Idaho where he teaches M.F.A. students at Boise State University.

Good To Know

In our interview with Doerr, he revealed some fun facts about himself:

"I hate peanut butter. I loathe it. My mom used to make it from scratch, and I remember watching her pour all that oil into her Cuisinart. And the sound of it, chunking around in there as it got whipped into paste. Ugh!"

"I am a horrific driver in the snow. I get very anxious. I love snow but I feel like humans aren't meant to move 60 mph through it."

"We have a dog named Lucy! She has such a pure heart. She is the best dog that has ever lived."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Tony Doerr
    2. Hometown:
      Boise, Idaho
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 27, 1973
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cleveland, Ohio
    1. Education:
      B.A., Bowdoin College, 1995; M.F.A., Bowling Green State University, 1999

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

He made his way through the concourse and stopped by a window to watch a man with two orange wands wave a jet into its gate. Above the tarmac the sky was faultless, that relentless tropic blue he had never quite gotten used to. At the horizon, clouds had piled up: cumulus congestus, a sign of some disturbance traveling along out there, over the sea.

The slim frame of a metal detector awaited its line of tourists. In the lounge: duty-free rum, birds of paradise sleeved in cellophane, necklaces made from shells. From his shirt pocket he produced a notepad and a pen.

The human brain, he wrote, is seventy-five percent water. Our cells are little more than sacs in which to carry water. When we die it spills from us into the ground and air and into the stomachs of animals and is contained again in something else. The properties of liquid water are this: it holds its temperature longer than air; it is adhering and elastic; it is perpetually in motion. These are the tenets of hydrology; these are the things one should know if one is to know oneself.

He passed through the gate. On the boarding stairs, almost to the jet, a feeling like choking rose in his throat. He clenched his duffel and clung to the rail. A line of birds — ground doves, perhaps — were landing one by one in a patch of mown grass on the far side of the runway. The passengers behind him shifted restlessly. A flight attendant wrung her hands, reached for him, and escorted him into the cabin.

The sensation of the plane accelerating and rising was like entering a vivid and perilous dream. He braced his forehead against the window. The ocean widened below the wing; the horizon tilted, then plunged. The plane banked and the island reemerged, lush and sudden, fringed by reef. For an instant, in the crater of Soufrière, he could see a pearly green sheet of water. Then the clouds closed, and the island was gone.

The woman in the seat next to him had produced a novel and was beginning to read. The airplane climbed the troposphere. Tiny fronds of frost were growing on the inner pane of the window. Behind them the sky was dazzling and cold. He blinked and wiped his glasses with his sleeve. They were climbing into the sun.

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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
In Anthony Doerr’s novel, About Grace, David Winkler is an Alaskan hydrologist imbued with a love of snow and a strange gift of foresight. He is outwardly ordinary, but when he falls in love with a married woman and flees with her to Ohio, a drastic chain of events is set in place. While working as a weather forecaster, he has a recurring vision in which harm comes to his family. Though he tries to find a way to avoid the terrible death he foresees, he feels certain that “the future waited for him to keep his appointment” (p. 59). In desperation, he flees in the hope of tricking fate and saving the life of his newborn daughter, Grace.

Grief-stricken and bewildered, David leaves the country, heedless of his destination. Eventually marooned on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, he is adopted by a family of Chilean refugees. Sheltered by Felix and Soma Orellana, their three sons, and their remarkable daughter Naaliyah, he slowly builds a new life. Warm water replaces ice and snow, and his inner torment is gradually eased. When a new vision results in his emergence as a hero, David finally decides to leave his place of exile, in the hope that he can be forgiven by those he abandoned and rewrite his own destiny.

Science and the observation of nature are the counterweight to the unpredictable pathways of memory and to David’s mysterious visions. Naaliyah grows into a brilliant young woman, a scientist following in his path, who leaves the islands to research the effects of cold on insect behavior. It is in her footsteps that David returns at last to Alaska after twenty-five years. He redevotes himself to his first passion, investigating the formation of snow crystals, trying to capture tiny snowflakes and photograph them before they melt. In such minute ways throughout the novel, Doerr reminds us that the magical and intangible are found in the mundane, and that science and spirituality share deep connections.

A snowflake, Doerr informs us, in spite of its precise structure, is constantly in motion: “On the outside the crystal looks stable, but on the inside, it’s like an earthquake all the time.” Such is the reality of David Winkler, whose outer passivity is at war with his inner passions, who suffers from the paralyzing effects of focusing on what could be, instead of what is, in a world where “time is like water, endlessly cycling through its states.” When David finally finds the courage to search out the family he had lost, he finds no more than fragments. At first tentatively, and then with absolute determination, David devotes himself to gathering up the shards of the life he had left behind, in a quiet struggle for personal rehabilitation.

With his debut, the award-winning story collection The Shell Collector, Anthony Doerr established himself as a major literary voice. In About Grace he has delivered another great work in exacting and lyrical prose, using luminous description to evoke the miracles of nature and locate the salvation to be found in the everyday world. Doerr reminds us of the virtues of persistence and passion, of familial bonds and the generosity of strangers, and of the endless possibility for renewal found inside each of us.

ABOUT ANTHONY DOERR

Anthony Doerr is a fiction writer whose stories have appeared in numerous publications, including the O. Henry Prize Stories, Atlantic Monthly, Zoetrope: All Story, and The Paris Review. His first book, The Shell Collector, was published in 2002 and recently was awarded the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize and the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award. He lives in Boise, Idaho where he teaches M.F.A. students at Boise State University and is finishing a novel.

A CONVERSATION WITH ANTHONY DOERR

This is your first novel; how did it get started? Did you begin with a short story idea, or did you know all along that David’s story would take a book to tell?

I found the germ of the novel when I rediscovered Wilson Bentley’s book of images of snowflakes (Snow Crystals) at my parents’ house. I had had it as a child, and I was leafing through it, trying to get my mind around what kind of a man would do this insanely meticulous work, and that’s where the character of Winkler started. I mean, think about it: for fifty years a farmer in Vermont caught snowflakes on a black tray and took photomicrographs of them. Can you imagine the patience? The strain on his eyes? The dedication to beauty? In all that time he managed about 5,000 successful prints and he sold basically none of them. Some winters he’d only get a few dozen usable photographs. He was a bachelor, taking care of his elderly mother, the butt of village jokes.

“Oh, I guess they’ve always believed I was crazy, or a fool, or both,” he said in 1910. He spent most of his money on it. And to top it all off, he died of pneumonia after staying out in a storm too long. The last entry in his weather diary was: Cold north wind afternoon. Snow Flying. That kind of perseverance, the mix of assiduousness and wonder you find in certain scientists, the way it borders on what might be thought of as crazy—that interested me.

The writing started slowly, and indeed became a big, unruly short story for a while. In an early draft I intended to rewrite “Rip Van Winkle,” and there are still elements of that lingering in the final version: Winkler’s name, the way he stays frozen/asleep for so many years and then reemerges to find his whole life has moved on without him.

The locations in this book are vivid and distinct: the Caribbean and Alaska, with a little Ohio thrown in. How did you choose where to set the novel? Did you spend time in each of these places?

The settings in my work are almost always based on visits to various places: whatever limited observational skills I have, I think I use them best when I find myself in a strange place, slightly uncomfortable. So, yes, I spent time in each of these places, but not necessarily with this novel in mind. I lived in Alaska for three summers when I was in my twenties; I grew up in Ohio; I’d traveled in the Windward Islands twice before I started writing.

Settings and stories usually come to me simultaneously. That is: the landscapes and the stories grow out of each other. Like real human beings, characters make marks on their respective environments, but environments make marks on their characters, too, and I tried to present each character’s story as inseparable from the place(s) where it occurs. That said, I don’t necessarily feel like I’m always presenting a real, actual place in my work—often the settings are more like mythic versions of real places. In About Grace this is especially true of Camp Nowhere and of the unnamed Grenadine island where Winkler maroons himself. I tried to render places that are as much of very precise dreams as of reality. And I liked the contrasts they posed, the way Winkler is expelled not into paradise, but into a sort of anti-paradise, a place our culture usually thinks of as paradise.

The descriptions of snow are really compelling, as are all your descriptions of water. The idea that snowflakes, and water in all of its forms, is constantly in motion, seems central to the themes of the book. Can you explain this a little bit? How is this idea reflected in David Winkler?

I love the fact that adults are about 60 percent water (newborns are almost 80 percent water). If you take our water away we die, and that water is infinitely recycled—the water in our faces and thighs and bladders is water that was on the Earth 400 million years ago, in the ocean, or locked up in Antarctica—seawater that trilobites swam through. If we think about a human life in terms of in terms of the age of water, the size of geologic time, time as it exists to a snowflake, maybe we might start to get a more accurate understanding of not only how small and brief our lifetimes are, but how miraculous it is that we get to be here at all, what a wonder it is to be able to see any of the world at all. I tried to build this into the book in every way I could, from making David a meek character beneath vast, overarching landscapes, to trying to remind a reader of the tiny miracles around us, in the frost, in the insects, to playing with all sorts of notions of what grace can be.

Science, both theory and practice, continues to be very present in your work. How did this come about? Do you research and study or is your interest more amorphous? Research. I love to read science books and I try to look at the world like an amateur naturalist. I write reviews of science books for the Boston Globe, and that keeps me reading and working to stay up to date. My favorite writers are the ones whose work embraces both accuracy and wonder, because you can’t help but feel how much they love the world and how the more they learn about it, the more mysterious it becomes. This is something I try to work on every single day.

Plus, research makes for great procrastination.

Naaliyah is the character who changes the most and the one who seems most self-realized. What enables her, as opposed to so many other people in the book, to escape, to roam free in pursuit of her interests?

Her family? Her own strength? She certainly isn’t crippled with the curse of precognition like Winkler. I’m not sure Naaliyah is the character who changes the most, but perhaps she is. Like many of us, she is someone who is trying to balance her loyalty to her family with an urge to strike out.

David really struggles with passivity. Why do you think he has such a hard time with action? Does it have something to do with his visions and the sense of predetermination that they give him? Was a more passive character hard to write about?

The more I thought about what it would really be like—to dream a man will get hit by a bus when you’re nine years old, and then to see it happen in front of your eyes three days later—the more I realized how terrifying every single moment of your life would become. Just think how awful it would be to go to bed at night, not knowing what you might dream. If everything or everyone that could come through the door, or round the corner, or jogging past, could derail the entire course of your life, of course you would become hesitant and frightened and passive. Particularly someone already predisposed to introversion like David Winkler. I thought, I hoped, that by making him reluctant, I was rendering him plausibly.

Sure, a passive character was difficult to write about. The biggest challenge was that Winkler was my only protagonist, and I had no other point-of-view characters I could visit for a few dozen pages, to build tension, to give my readers a break. I had to rely on Winkler to be on stage on every page.

What do you think David’s visions are? Are you interested in the idea that time is flexible in a real way or just as a novelistic device?

I am interested in the notion that the way we conceive of time is just one way of thinking, not the right or wrong way. What is a one o’clock lunch appointment to a tree? What is a Tuesday to a rock? A snowflake lives for maybe thirty seconds, or a billion years, depending on how you define what makes a snowflake. In the universe time can indeed expand and fold over itself and it is the role of fiction, I think, to try to get a reader to step outside of him or herself. Manipulating time is one small way to try to accomplish that. So yes, I’m interested in it in a real way and in a fictive way.

David is an odd kind of hero: he saves his family by absconding, he rescues Naaliyah after a kind of obsessive stalking. To others, his actions often seem suspect, even threatening. Were you interested in exploring this idea of having a character who is well-intentioned but misunderstood?

Yes. He is probably not a protagonist many Americans are used to seeing in stories. He is an antihero: nerdy, reticent, not possessed of grand gestures. But in other ways he really is a traditional hero: in that he is unwilling, and that he “prevails” over an impossible predicament.

Think of it this way: In the beginning of the book I put poor Winkler in this horrible dilemma where on one hand he will fulfill the worst thing he could imagine (drowning his baby daughter) and on the other hand he’ll commit the ultimate cultural transgression—maybe the biggest transgression apart from murder—by abandoning his family. But if he really believes he is a danger to his daughter, isn’t he then heroic to abandon her?

Perhaps. I still felt that he needed to suffer somehow for abandoning her, too. To find whatever grace there is at the end of the book, to make the resolution fulfilling, I needed to send him away. It’s about moving the narrative into dissonance, and then trying to turn everything slowly back toward resonance.

Have you been traveling lately? Are there any new locations or interests that you think may appear in upcoming work?

My family and I just returned to the States from living in Rome for a year, so Italy will probably emerge at some point. I’m very interested in medieval villages, particularly in Umbria, these little missives from the past, and how they’re trying to fit into a world of cell phones and tourism and cultural migration.

What have you been working on recently? Will we see another novel from you soon?

Thanks for asking. I’m working on a project that I think will become a novel, because it’s too long to be a story, about France in World War II. So far it’s about radio, and piano making, and the enormous air bombing campaigns that the Allies unleashed on Normandy before D-Day. It’s still got a long way to go, but hopefully I can finish it one of these days.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • In David’s early life, he suffers the loneliness of the gifted. He struggles with the terror that his visions instill in him and is almost overwhelmed at the intensity of the natural world. What does he love and appreciate in his childhood? Do those elements remain in his life? Do you think he grows more or less lonely?
     
  • David’s mother is the only person who seems unafraid when David’s visions reveal themselves. Describe her approach to mothering an unusual child, one who sleepwalks and foresees terrible events. How does she help instill in him a sense of being loved? How do you think her loss affects him?
     
  • Sandy is searching for meaning in her life. She is bored and disappointed by her marriage and job, and a new life with David is a way to escape that. Ultimately, their affair leads to outcomes both good and bad. How does David help her find her identity? What do you think the rest of her life is like after David flees? If you were in her position, could you find a way to understand why David left?
     
  • When David leaves his family in Ohio, he is convinced that he must do so in order to save his daughter’s life. Later, he wonders if he might have acted differently, if he could have stayed and altered the future as he saw it. What do you think? Was his running away an act of cowardice or of courage? What does he later learn about his visions that changes how he thinks of their inevitability?
     
  • David ends up in the Caribbean purely by chance. Why does David stay on the islands as he does? Why does he choose manual labor over work that would utilize his Ph.D.? Try to think of how his exile changes him. What does he gain by adopting this new lifestyle, and what does he lose?
     
  • Water is everywhere in the novel, from frozen Alaska, to flooding Ohio, to the gentle seas of the Caribbean islands. Doerr writes that “Water was a wild, capricious substance: nothing solid, nothing permanent, nothing as it appeared.” In what ways does water heal and in what ways does it destroy? Think over some of the scenes in which water plays a major part. Why is David so fascinated by it?
     
  • How do the locations in the book represent different stages of David’s evolution? Who is he in Alaska? In Ohio? In the Caribbean? How does the landscape around him reflect or affect his inner state? Think about how the natural world interacts with the narrative events of the book and the changing lives of the characters.
     
  • Consider some of the unexpected friendships that David acquires. Who is kind to him? Why do you think people such as Herman and the Orellanas help him? Is it simply out of compassion or is there something that he gives in return? Try to think about acts of kindness by David himself; is there a balance between what he receives and what he offers?
     
  • Naaliyah lives an extraordinary life, one that certainly exceeds what one might expect from a poor refugee from a remote island. What qualities aid her in her quest to become a scientist? What is her motivation to achieve so much? Consider what her success means to her family, and how her relationship with them is both damaged and strengthened along the way.
     
  • Naaliyah is David’s muse and the guide back into his old life. Yet David’s relationship with Naaliyah is tinged with sexual confusion and other potential dangers. How would you define their relationship? What role does David want her to have in his life? What role does she want to have? How do they help each other find their way in the world?
     
  • David’s gift warps time, making it seem as though present and future are interchangeable. How does this knowledge affect the way he looks at the world? How does the added burden of memory, of the past, affect the way that he lives? Consider how focusing on the past or on the future affects his ability to live well at different points of the book. At the end of the book, what is he concentrating on? What place do his visions have in his new life?
     
  • From the perspective of others, David did something unforgivable: he abandoned his wife with their newborn daughter. At various points in the novel, he runs away rather than confronts, or chooses an indirect approach, or fails to take action. After twenty-five years, is David redeemed by his return? Does his persistence help as he tries to find a place in his family’s life? What role does his family finally allow? Would you forgive him?
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2005

    Read this book!!!!

    This is one of the ten best books I have ever read. From the first page, it was clear that this was written by an author who carefully crafts every sentence. His prose is pure poetry. This beautiful story about love, faith and ultimately the resilience of the human spirit was gut-wrenching at times as you acutely feel David Winklers pain and redemption. If you only read one book this year, you should make it this one!

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2005

    I am a new Doerr Fan!

    This book was great! The main character was tragic, awkward and ever stalkerish but I found my heart breaking for him. The style of writting was so beautifully constructed I feel as though I just watched a movie instead of reading a book.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2004

    A shining jewel of a novel...

    This book sings about the beauty of love in it's many different forms, redemption and friendship. I stayed up all night and into the early morning finishing this book. It is one of the best books I have ever read, and I plan to listen to it on audio; I know it will be just as good. Mr. Doerr has created a magical world of fate and chance out of the most unlikely circumstances and creates a very belivable, intricate story. I didn't want David Winkler's story to ever end...I have had The Shell Collector for 2 years and haven't read it, but it will be one of the next books that I am planning to open up.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2005

    A long time to get there

    Mr Doerr writes well. Part of this book resembled Dean Koontz, part Harlan Coben and part Greg Garrett (Free Bird). The prose was excellent, I just had problems assimilating the different plot twists and, in the end, believing in the characters. Starting off with the dream/reality topic, then gravitating into defying fate, I then got lost in the passage of time it took for the main character to decide to do something to right the wrongs, redeem himself, and to set the record straight. Perhaps it was his attempts which, for an educated person which Mr Winkler was supposed to be, seemed so assinine and ridiculous. Yes, some were humorous, some tragic, but why attempt them the way he did? I could never come to grips with that issue. In the end my rush to the finish was in part to find out what happens to the hero but was also to just finish the book. I would recommend this book for style, but it isn't on my top list. The plot just didn't settle well with me.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2004

    Wow!!

    David Winkler is an odd loner living in Anchorage, Alaska, who has dreams that foretell the future. He's weird. And his life ends up a mess. And I immediately began to like him. In the chaos of his strange existence, Winkler seeks out and finds (or trips over and falls into) beautiful things. Family, friends, the splendor of nature. It's a painful journey that takes the reader from Alaska to the Midwest to the tropics of an island and back around again. This is one of the most beautiful books I've read in a long time. It's one of those rare books that wakes you up to the good things around you. Doerr's prose is brilliant, and yet it's all so subtle and unpretentious. The book is pensive and profound, it's plot is smooth and compelling, and it's characters are kind and immensely likeable.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2004

    Doerr is a Master

    I read About Grace simply because I loved the imagery in Doerr's short story The Shell Collector. About Grace surpasses the fried and hashed world of genre, and presents a literary, almost poetic, tale of love, fear, and redemption. This is a one of a kind work, and I look forward to many years of equally great books from young Anthony Doerr.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 7, 2014

    Anthony Doerr has become one of my favorite authors. His prose

    Anthony Doerr has become one of my favorite authors. His prose is poetic to me.. his words evoke beautiful physical pictures and pictures for the soul. Some of his sentences are so profound to me that I find myself dwelling on them for long after the page turns. Now I'm an avid reader but not all books leave a mark on me the way "The Light We Cannot See" and "About Grace" did. I love that the books are kind of rambling (and very long!) because they exemplify the twists and turns our lives take. The character development in this book is terrific as we follow David and the secondary characters throughout their circumstances, emotions and real lives. If you are a true bibliophile and enjoy true beauty in prose, you'll like this book and Anthony Doerr.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2005

    Smart and Refreshing

    This was the first book I read by Anthony Doerr. I enjoyed every second of it - it is smart, and strange. The characters are unusual and touching. This books deals with questions of fate, free will, determination, and faith. I strongly recommend it to anyone!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2014

    Reading Anthony Doerr is like indulging on a decadent dessert!Hi

    Reading Anthony Doerr is like indulging on a decadent dessert!His style of writing,those gorgeous passages,descrpitions so
    exquisite.
    To read
    another author now will be a hard act to follow.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2005

    Ooops, I didn't like it at all.....

    Whew....I thought I'd never finish, and really it was a little 'too dark' for me. I guess it just wasn't my style. Dark.......

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2015

    I like Anthony Doerr, however, About Grace is tedious and too wo

    I like Anthony Doerr, however, About Grace is tedious and too wordy. All the Light We Cannot See is much more interesting.  I'm glad I read All the Light first. If you have insomnia, this will help you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2015

    Slooooow.

    I'm sorry but this was one of the slowest books I have ever read. While I will admit that the writing was descriptive, 75% of the book seemed to be descriptions of the main characters surrounding while the storyline dragged on, and on, AND ON with nothing of much interest happening. The beginning of the story caught my interest so I anticipated something exciting or fascinating to come of it, but the story line continued on and on with very little happening except a man pining away for his daughter. A complete waste of my time and money.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2015

    To james (all about me)

    Im 16 years old. Im in a wheelchair but i can walk a little. I have problems with depression and have bipolar disorder. Me, my boyfriend, and four friends of mine are in a band called Justice Blood. You should see our logo. Its awesome. We arent famous, though. We practice every weekend in my garage. I do the electric guitar for the band and im also the lead singer. When i sing high, i sound like tory kelly, when i sing a little lower i sound like rita ora, and when i sing really low i sound like katy perry. My fav types of music are rock, pop, and hiphop. My fav song is Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhood. My fav bands are The Neighbourhood, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Killsonik, and Mystery Skulls. My fav individual singers are Mayer Hawthorne, Justin Timberlake, Ne-yo, Eminem, Beyonce and Iggy Azalea. My fav movies are The Batman Vs. Dracula, The Princess Bride, Pokemon: Arceus And The Jewel Of Life, and all of the Twilght movies. My fav TV shows are Pokemon(cartoon network), Lab Rats(Disney XD), Austin And Ally(disney channel), and Liv And Maddie(disney channel). My fav food is pasta shells with alfedo sauce. My fav desserts are chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and peanut caramel brittle my mom makes. My fav book is Dracula by Bram Stoker. My fav book series are Hush Hush saga and The Morganville Vampires series. My fav animals are the dragon and the wolf. I was thrown out of my house four years ago, was on the streets for three weeks, and was taken in by a man and a woman and their son, who is two years older than me. They treat me like im one of them, with love. I have an iphone5, 3ds, dsi, dslite, android tablet, wii, and a nook which im typing on right now. I dye my hair a lot. Right now its purple with neon orange at the tips. My hair goes down to just below my shoulder blades, and its thick and naturally wavy, and i prefer to keep it like that. The real color of my hair is blond and brown. Im wearing my favorite black hoodie with a vampire on it that says: Bite Me. Underneath my hoodie im wearing a green spaghetii strap tank top. I also have on tight red skinny jeans. Ya know, the colored ones. On my feet i have on those big shoes the guys like to wear. Mine are black and blue. Im a tomboy, so yah. I have two dogs, a cat, two hamsters, a rabbit, a ferret, and a frog. Well, thats a lot about me. Now tell me about you! ~ pokemon girl

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 4, 2015

    I would LOVE to read some of this authors work, but right now ev

    I would LOVE to read some of this authors work, but right now everything he has out is WAY out of my budget. I hope to see 1 free nook book so I can see if I like his style. The reviews have helped tremendously and I have added his work to my wishlist for now. 

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2007

    LIKED THE CAPTIONS AND GRAPHICS

    But oi voi - just such a crock of americana shiite i`ve not seen recently - surely that was an exercise set by tutor ,gone awry???

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2015

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2015

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2014

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