"Stories, only stories." A Review of Anthony Doerr's Memory Wall: Stories

Following my highly anticipated book list, I was so very excited when I finally got my hands on a copy of Anthony Doerr’s Memory Wall: Stories. Along with anticipation, I began to see Doerr’s name everywhere. I found that even the most articulate critics found it difficult expressing what Doerr’s collection of stories would provide the reader. Most simply noted the ease in which Doerr creates and exhibits the art of beautiful language. And I haven’t found a blog yet that hasn’t given Memory Wall: Stories a thousand nods of approval, so I won’t disappoint.
Memory Wall: Stories

To say that Doerr has a way with the English language is an understatement. His eloquence breathes an unchartered depth into the prosaic experiences of human life. However, Doerr's cast is not simply dealing with ordinary trials and tribulations; No, these character experiences are shocking, and often melancholic, allowing the reader understanding on a personal level. The couple who finds they may never be able to reproduce; the man who fears losing his son after already losing an adulterous wife; and the seed merchant who falls behind when her village is destroyed in order to produce modernity. Painful and uncomfortable at times, Doerr writes with raw elegance.

I had so many questions upon completing the work. What did Doerr hope to accomplish with the work, overall? Aside from the representation of the effect of memory on the human consciousness, what was the underlying message?
The concept of memory is the thread that ties these short stories together presenting the audience with a tidy little package. Doerr emphasizes each characters capacity to evoke positive emotion from their own memories, their own stories, in the face of despondent circumstances. The recollection of memories for most of the characters provides a means to understand their lives, to make sense of what it is to be human. Each character relies on these positive memories to push through the hard times. Doerr seamlessly threads these minute moments of optimism in a sea of discomfort and despair that constitutes much of the work.

I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about Doerr’s style exactly that makes his writing so moving. I managed to highlight and copy several lines from his work that left me utterly captivated. His descriptive prose heightens the reader's senses, without interference from the scrutinous descriptions of daily living.

Some excerpts that I enjoyed especially:
Yesterday she walked the long delivery to the mailbox in a slow drizzle and paused with her hand on the fence and sat down in the gravel and stared up, and let the rain fall into her eyes, and was certain for a long moment that she could sense a silvery, restless world rippling just beneath this one.”
“Every hour the thought floats to the surface: if we’re all going to end up happy together in Heaven then why does anyone wait? Every hour the Big Sadness hangs behind my ribs, sharp and gleaming, and it’s all I can to do keep breathing.”
These quotations offer the audience a sense of Doerr’s style. Furthermore, these excerpts exhibit Doerr’s fresh representation of a very common subject: human qualms with death and the afterlife.

Feel free to leave any additional points or comments that you have about the work. I look forward to differing notions of this particular piece, because I feel that the number of intricacies would provide enough material for discussion for years.
I was unfamiliar with Anthony Doerr until this point and I found that this title was beautifully crafted. I’ve purchased About Grace, a novel published in 2005 and can’t wait to share his work again.

Other titles by Anthony Doerr:
The Shell Collector: Stories
Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World

Note: This article is definitely worth reading if you'd like more information about Memory Wall: Stories.

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