Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Shell Collector: Stories Paperback – January 4, 2011
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
The whorls, chambers, and ribs of the seashell are an elegance unto themselves, but if man-made beauty can come anywhere close to this, Anthony Doerr's short stories would be perfect candidates. His debut collection, The Shell Collector, sets such high standards, sentence to sentence, that it is more like the private architecture of shells than like the random borrowings, sexual details, and flashes of insight that make up the bulk of contemporary fiction. The title story is about a blind man of 58, a scholar of shells (malacology), who retires to an isolated beach-side hut in Kenya, but then accidentally discovers a cure for a major illness in the often-deadly stings of the cone snail. "The Hunter's Wife," a second small masterpiece, describes the marriage of a Montana hunter and his much younger, psychically gifted wife. There are more conventional pieces here; well-written, resonating stories that do not attempt the sweep or descriptive wealth of "The Shell Collector," although they are still at the level of the best realistic fiction that is being published now in America. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
HThe natural world exerts a powerful, brooding presence in this first collection; it's almost as much a main character as any of the individuals the 26-year-old Doerr records. Nature, in these eight stories, is mysterious and deadly, a wonder of design and of nearly overwhelming power. This delicate balance is evidenced by the title story, about a blind man who spends his days collecting rare and beautiful shell specimens. Self-exiled to the coast of Kenya, he discovers that a certain poisonous snail has the power both to kill and to effect a rapid recovery from malaria. This discovery brings him much attention but little joy, disturbing the carefully ordered universe that he has constructed to manage both his blindness and his temperament. A naturalist's perspective also informs the other stories. In "The Hunter's Wife," Doerr catalogues winter in Montana as "a thousand ladybugs hibernating in an orange ball in a riverbank hollow; a pair of dormant frogs buried in frozen mud." But Doerr can play it funny, too: in "July Fourth," a group of American fishermen endure a hilarious litany of woes in a fishing contest across Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Their troubles include much drinking, few fish and losing their shirts (and all their tackle) to a Belorussian basketball team. The title story could well appear in the next Best American or O. Henry anthologies, and the others make a fine supporting cast. Agent, Wendy Weil. (Jan. 14)Forecast: With blurbs from the likes of Rick Bass, this debut collection should do better than most, especially if reviewers take note.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Many authors write in what I call a single style. We know exactly what we will get when we open a collection of, for example, Annie Proulx stories. But Doerr's are not that way at all. My favorite, because I love to laugh when I read, is "July Fourth," one of the shorter of these stories which are mostly long short stories. This is a story that is one of those read-alouders. It all started in Manhattan in the "uptight anglers' club" where "picking at platters of tempura and sipping vodka martinis" the American fishermen--if they really could honestly be called that--have challenged the Brits who belong to their own anglers' club to a contest to see which can catch the largest fish from each of the continents. We don't see much of the Brits, only the buffoons from America as they travel in style to various places in Europe, ending up in Lithuania, thinking it is Poland. This story came as a big surprise because the other stories are just not humorous, are much more serious.
Several of the stories take place in various parts of Africa including the opening on, "The Shell Collector" who lives on an island off the coast of Kenya. He is a retired, blind college professor who never is given a name. In fact there are several stories in this collection in which central characters are not named including the second one, "The Hunter's Wife" in which the central character, the Montana-born hunter marries a woman much younger than him under some rather unusual circumstances. And the story opens as he is about to leave Montana for the first time in his life--he is in his fifties--and is flying to Chicago where he will see his wife after an absence of twenty years.
Because I have spent time in and around the various places in Maine where Mexican-born 14-year-old Dorothea San Juan has moved with her parents--her father claims he has a job building ships at the Bath Iron Works--I was immediately attracted to this story with its references to Popham Beach, Harpswell, isolated and charming little places outside Brunswich, Maine. And later I learn that the author is an alumnus of Bowdoin College! But this is actually one of the stories I would put as least favorite among the stories although I liked it well enough.
One of the strangest stories I have ever read it "For a Long Time This Was Griselda's Story." Griselda runs away with a magician, leaving behind her younger sister and widowed mother who never accepts that her elder daughter left. My favorite stories, however, come near the end, the longer "The Caretaker" and the shortest in this collection, "A Tangle by the River." (The author quite clearly knows a lot about fishing and really uses that knowledge so well in these stories.) But the central character in "The Caretaker" is just so beautiful, born in Liberia and forced to leave, ending up in Oregon where he becomes a caretaker of an estate--or sort of a caretaker. In this story you will want to follow the metaphors, the unburied mother and then the burying of the hearts of the beached whales and what what happens one day regarding the daughter of the couple for whom he is (or was) the caretaker. He truly becomes the caretaker of so much.
I highly recommend this collection of stories.