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About Grace

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  1,821 ratings  ·  287 reviews

When Anthony Doerr's The Shell Collector was published in 2002, the Los Angeles Times called his stories "as close to faultless as any writer -- young or vastly experienced -- could wish for." He won the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Discover Prize, Princeton's Hodder Fellowship, and two O. Henrys, and shared the Young Lions Award. Now he h

Hardcover, 416 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by Scribner (first published 2004)
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I read this in preparation to tackle All the Light We Cannot See to see what all the hoopla's about. I gotta say, Anthony Doerr is an impressive writer, and I am somewhat more eager to read his Pulitzer Prize winner now that I've read About Grace. It's by no means a perfect book; in fact the novel is stuffed with gobs of superfluous stuff that threatens to detract from the story (how much do we really need to know about snow crystal formation, anyway?) but Doerr writes with an exuberance that ...more
I read this because Doerr is a local author, and a prize winner, and I liked him so much when I heard him speak. I wanted to like the book. I listened to it in my car and listened to the whooooooole thing. I started cursing it as I drove down the street. At times I wanted to drive into a telephone pole just to stop the pain. a) I don't like plotting based on poor decisions by the characters. b) I don't like extended meanderings into beautiful descriptive prose about things that have absolutely n ...more
Pat Simons
After reading All the Light We Cannot See, which I found thought-provoking and beautifully written, I wanted to read more of Doerr's work. The title "About Grace" looked promising, so I downloaded it. But the book didn't hold a candle (hoho) to All the Light We Cannot See. Some of the prose was lovely, although not as spectacular as the prose in All the Light We Cannot See. But I was as happy to see About Grace end as I was sorry to see the end of All the Light We Cannot See. I found the protago ...more
This book tells the story of David Winkler, a man who has dreams that are premonitions of the future. It was beautifully written with amazing imagery of the diverse settings of the novel. In Winkler's attempts to escape his dreams he travels from the Caribbean to Alaska and Doerr describes both of these settings in beautiful almost magical detail. Water and snow become the most amazingly complex and beautiful things in Doerr's writing. Other reviewers have stated that while the writing was beaut ...more
About Grace is the first novel from Boise, Idaho based author, Anthony Doerr. He previously published a collection of short stories, The Shell Collector, which were both moving and gorgeous. One of the qualities of the stories contained in The Shell Collector, i.e., each story's deep connection to the natural world in which it takes place, actually becomes one of the chief weaknesses in About Grace.

About Grace opens as its protagonist, David Winkler, a fifty-nine-year-old scientist, especially f
Languid. This is a languid book requiring the reader to lower their metabolism to match the flow of the page. If the reader can do this, if the reader can build patience, then a world of graceful prose will be the reward.

The mythology of the Great Flood still lives in our heads. The fear and awe of water and waves and violent whitecaps. "We live in the beds of ancient oceans." Water and its transformation into snowflakes form the basis of this novel. The water in each of us that longs to return
I love that he uses the science of snowflakes to mirror the complicated mental patterns of a human being who is lost and trying to find his place in the world, attempting to come to terms with the chaos in his head and heart.

Doeer is remarkably astute in delving into the isolation and loneliness of being human, the intermittment connections we make: some enduring, others brief and awkward, but each valuable and necessary. This story is a classic hero's journey and Doerr writes it well.

I percei
Bill Perkins
One of my favorite books. The charachter Mr Winkler often is in my thoughts. It is a story of remorse, of growth, of change, and of love. I recommend this to anyone. The text is beautifully written. The characters are deeply defined. I loved every word, and was so sad to see the end.
"I could be bound in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space – were it not that I have bad dreams.” -- Hamlet

An awful gift, a dreadful mistake, half a lifetime of doldrums and then repentance form the arc of this first novel by Anthony Doerr, whose second All the Light We Cannot See has been a near-universal favorite in 2014. I recommend About Grace very highly, though stinting one star on goodreads because I haven’t yet given five to any fiction (except humor) not read at least t
For a girl who boasts to the claim of not being a fan of "recreational crying" I would have to say I understand now why some girls like to watch movies that make them cry. I found this book rather therapeutic. The book is called About Grace and it is by Anthony Doerr.

The book is about David Winkler a man who has a vision of his daughter's death, which he sees himself causeing. This vision causes him to then spends his whole life running to avoid it. It follows the path he takes and the people h
Elizabeth Shafer
I was given Doerr's recent book for Christmas but decided to first read his first novel, About Grace. As others have observed, Doerr seems to think like a scientist--whether about about stars, snowflakes, shells, insects--but writes like a poet. What is chance, what is fate? Doerr deals with these philosophical questions viscerally and brilliantly. The protagonist, David Winkler, is cursed with dreams or premonitions of events, some of which occur and which fill him with overwhelming dread, caus ...more
Sally Knotwell
This was a highly touted book for our book club. The premise had me excited to read it. However, once I got started, I found that I was in a constant state of confusion. Each chapter starts out with the main character, David Winkler, as a different age and it does not progress chronologically. It bounces from age 59 to 32 and back and forth with no particular signal that the reader is going back or forth. David Winkler is not a sympathetic character in my opinion. He is immoral and a stalker. An ...more
I had mixed feelings about this book. I cared about the sentences, not the characters. They just never came alive for me. The writing is gorgeous, particularly the passages about water in all its permutations--snowflakes, clouds, rain, puddles. I love the idea of a novel growing out of geography and climate, as this novel clearly does. I just don't think it drew me in as I expect a book to. The characters never felt like real people. The were caricatures for me. And I love Doerr's stories and hi ...more
I found this book compelling-a little long, and at times I was really frustrated with Winkler, but I had to find out what would become of him. Very much enjoyed the writing style. It was extremely observant and relaxing. Made me think a lot. I will read more by this author.
Always beware of reading an author’s earlier work after finding transcendence in a later one…… About Grace by Andrew Doerr is so very much like All The Light We Cannot See and yet so very much not. The encyclopedic minutia about arcane areas of science described in lush details are there….this time primarily about water and snow and the formation of ice crystals. (There is one brief reference to radio waves.) Lyrical passages you underline three times. “What were dreams? A ladle dipped, a bucket ...more
I couldn't decide whether to give this book 4 or 5 stars, finally decided on the former because of the amount of effort and work it took to read it, to understand it, to see its metaphors. Perhaps that is good reason to give it 5. Maybe I will change my mind.

David Winkler grows up in Alaska with a mother who introduces him to the work of Wilson Bentley, who created amazing photographs of snowflakes beginning in 1885. (See David grows up to become a hyd
"About Grace" captured me from the very beginning. I did not want it to end. Doerr crafted a fascinating tale around David Winkler, a strange and introverted man, and the people in his life who were, or became, important to him. Through it all—the joys, the losses, the sadness, the frustrations—Winkler's fascination with the natural world, evidenced most vividly in his lifelong study of snowflakes, anchors the story line.

Equally gripping was the exquisite beauty of Doerr's prose. I would compar
David Carr
I had finished Doerr's short story collection, Memory Wall, when my Kindle [I was traveling in Alaska] offered me an opportunity to read the first pages of About Grace and I said yes. Then I fell into this book and found it to take me back to some of the best reading I did forty years ago or more. At times Doerr reminded me of the Nabokov of Pnin or the great Bernard Malamud's A New Life; I also thought of Saul Bellow and the neglected Edward Lewis Wallant.

Doerr's protagonist is haunted and dri
Victor Davis
An obvious first novel, beautifully written, but very rough around the edges. Anthony Doerr did not maintain my suspension of disbelief hardly at all. It reads like he had this beautiful emotional story to tell but struggled to piece together a believable plot. Rather than think out and re-draft plot points, he blustered through without caring whether it would be believable. I'm not talking about the science fiction sense of the word. There is nothing wrong with the premise of a man who has pre ...more
As a young boy growing up in Anchorage Alaska, he has a dream of a man carrying a hat box being hit by a bus. Weeks later, when he and his mother are walking down the street, he walks right into that same scene and everything crystallizes and slows down as his dream becomes reality. Years later, David has another dream about his infant daughter.

David Winkler is a very unique individual. Not only that he has premonitions but, the way he views life. He is a hydrologist and has a fixation with wate
The second book I've read by Tony Doerr. He is my current favorite author. Beautiful language, astonishing and perfect structure. I've got a few more of his books from the library on my shelf. So satisfying and fulfilling to read these gems.
Lanie Tankard
I loved Doerr's first novel even more than his recent ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE. It was interesting to notice threads in ABOUT GRACE that he later developed in ALL THE LIGHT. Two masterpieces.
Waste of time and just weird.
This is a very unusual book. I read it because somebody famous recommended it in The Week (can't remember who). I almost quit midway through, but finished because I wanted to see how it ended -- and ended up being vaguely glad that I did.

The viewpoint character in this probably has autism or Asperger's. He is obsessed with snow. He has dreams that foretell terrible things happening in the future. After spending his whole life in Alaska, he ends up in self-imposed exile on St Vincent in the Carib
After loving All the Light We Cannot See, I turned eagerly to Doerr's earlier novel, About Grace - and was reminded that often writers get better the more they write. This book contains many glimpses of the wonder of All the Light, but doesn't soar.

As in his later novel, Doerr does a breathtaking job of blending science and poetry. Here's a recollection of our main character, David:
"His first week in college he met with a counselor and made earth sciences his major. A chemistry unit on the hydr
David Winkler is a rather nondescript, solitary man. The one really extraordinary thing about him is something no one else sees: he occasionally dreams about something that will happen in the future. This began when he was nine years old and occurs at irregular intervals, sometimes years or even decades apart. But it’s enough to make him a pariah, living most of his life in self-imposed exile. He is an observer of the lives of others, for the most part. All he wants is a straightforward, normal ...more
When we first meet David Winkler he is boarding a plane, and returning home for the first time in twenty-five years. Back then he had been a husband, and a father working as a staff meteorologist at a TV station in Cleveland and then one day he ran away to Kingstown, St Vincent.

He ran a way because he has a special gift: sometimes his recurring dreams come true. As a child he dreamed of a man being run over by a bus, and it came true right before his eyes. Then he dreamed he would meet the woman
I had figured out that Anthony Doerr was not related to Harriet before I started this novel. About Grace is in five parts and I am somewhat surprised so that so many of us (including characters) survived so many. It's a stunning beginning, all 78 pages of Book 1 in my edition. But at the end of Book 1 I felt that I had read an entire novella I looked in wonderment at the bulk of the book remaining. He seemed to have lost everything; perhaps sacrificed it and you want to shake David Winkler. Get ...more
Julie Bye
The prose in About Grace is breathtakingly beautiful, but the story itself was a bit muddled. I really enjoyed the second half of the book. I found the first half a struggle and only the poetry of the writing kept me going. The indecision of the main character seemed to be reflected by the author and a few times I felt like smacking some sense into both of them.

The main character is pitiful rather than loveable and many of the decisions he makes are not logical. He is however blessed with some a
Beautiful writing, but if you want a fast read, this book is not for you.
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The Ending? Help me understand... 2 18 Jan 04, 2015 02:06PM  
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Anthony Doerr is the author of five books, The Shell Collector , About Grace , Memory Wall , Four Seasons in Rome and All the Light We Cannot See . Doerr’s fiction has won four O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Barnes & Noble Discov ...more
More about Anthony Doerr...
All the Light We Cannot See The Shell Collector: Stories Memory Wall Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World The Snake Handler

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“You ever hope for something so much? So much you can't sleep, so much your skull hurts? But the thing is, you don't even know if the thing you're wishing for is possible? You don't even know if it could happen? And it's all out of your control?” 13 likes
“Our shadows are our histories. We drag them everywhere.” 12 likes
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