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The Shell Collector: Stories

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4.07  ·  Rating details ·  5,449 Ratings  ·  720 Reviews
The "perilously beautiful" (Boston Globe) first story collection by the author of the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning #1 New York Times bestseller All The Light We Cannot See.

The exquisitely crafted stories in Anthony Doerr’s debut collection take readers from the African Coast to the pine forests of Montana to the damp moors of Lapland, charting a vast physical and emoti
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ebook, 224 pages
Published February 1st 2002 by Scribner (first published 2001)
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Martha M I finished the stories in this book about a month ago. They are all beautifully crafted. If you are familiar with Anthony Doerr's All the Light We…moreI finished the stories in this book about a month ago. They are all beautifully crafted. If you are familiar with Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See, you are acquainted with his gorgeous sentences. I can think of nothing inappropriate in this book if you are thinking about giving it to a young adult. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Jessica
Sep 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Man, this guy can write like he's an octogenarian. Bastard. Seriously. Like an octogenarian of the Wallace Stegner-class. Who does he think he is, writing timeless stories that will hold up way past the superficial, self-conscious Study of Self dreck that seems to stream from writing workshops these days. If I have to wallow through one more witless and hapless protagonist who washes his or her grief in some kind of pop culture balm, I will merely think of one of Doerr's stories to refrain from ...more
Regan
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned-read
3.75
Violet wells
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s like Anthony Doerr aspires to be the David Attenborough of literature. Always seeking to inspire us to remain goggle-eyed by the beauties of the natural world. Pretty much every story in this collection has as its theme an individual’s relationship with the natural world. And the natural world is always called upon to act as a guru – because Doerr, you suspect, is something of an old hippie at heart. He’s deeply attached to ideas of escapism and rainbow endings. Drifting dangerously close t ...more
Tara
Jun 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my all-time favorite short story collections. I bought the paperback back when I had very little income. I was browsing in the bookstore (my cheap entertainment) and found this book. I read the first sentence: "The shell collector was scrubbing limpets at his sink when he heard the water taxi come scraping over the reef. He cringed to hear it . . ." and I just had to buy it. The only new book I had purchased for some years. But I couldn't pass it up, and wanted to own it.

It did no
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Dianne
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2016
Very well done collection of short stories by Anthony Doerr, written a dozen years before his Pulitzer Prize winner "All The Light We Cannot See." If you read "All The Light," you will recognize little bits and pieces of that lovely book in some of these stories, especially the title story. Remember Marie-Laure's fascination with shells and mollusks? Straight from "The Shell Collector."

All of the stories are engrossing and quite different from one another. They are all written in his signature l
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Bettie☯
Description: A remarkable collection of stories from a young American writer of huge potential: 'A show-stopping debut, as close to faultless as any writer could wish for' Los Angeles Times 'His fingers dug the shell up, he felt the sleek egg of its body, the toothy gap of its aperture. It was the most elegant thing he'd ever held. "That's a mouse cowry," the doctor said.

"A lovely find. It has brown spots, and darker stripes at its base, like tiger stripes. You can't see it, can you?" But he co
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Teresa
Nov 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maybe not all the stories in this collection are as brilliant as "The Caretaker" and "Mkondo" (a perfect ending to the book), or maybe it only seems that way because these two set the bar so high. In any case, all of them are beautifully crafted and lovely to read, some taking you to remote worlds you most likely will never go to yourself.

Along with the much larger theme of the force of life in both nature and mankind, other subtle threads run through each story: the different manifestations of
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Larry Bassett
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was lead to The Shell Collector directly by the author’s current best seller All the Light We Cannot See. On a certain level, the books have similarities: blindness and nature and objects with magic properties. But I found my interaction with the two books to be very different. With Light I was easily drawn in by the language and the story whereas with Collector I was immediately put off by the story, confused by the details and uncertain where I was being led. The language was similarly mesme ...more
Linda
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, kindle-special
2.99 today
This was my first book by Anthony Doerr. Each story was made up of rich, dimensional characters and beautiful prose. This collection of short stories tempers hope with despair and you will find yourself thinking about them long after you finish. All The Light We Cannot See has been on my TBR list for sometime, I am looking forward to reading it. This has been an awesome year of reading for me with many new authors!
Immediately drawn to this cover!
Renata
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Doerr is magnificent writer of breathtaking prose, poetic descriptions of nature's beauty and sudden harshness, and evocative characterization of uniquely interesting yet all too human characters. The Shell Collector is one of the richest short stories I've ever read. It has more weight than many a novel. The richness of the points of view, the dynamic between unexpected characters reminds me of Chekhov. I am not a frequent reader of short stories but I picked this up after reading a review of D ...more
Emily
Jul 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jen, Trev, and Sharon definitely
This is a collection of short stories from a pretty young author--really beautiful stuff. Sharon, this is the book I told you about with the story about the hunter's wife who touches the dying animals to feel their pain and their life. It stems from there to get even more dramatic and metaphysical but seriously.....the stories in here absolutely changed me and made me want to become a writer. There's a story in here about a homeless man who cuts out the hearts of beached whales and buries them a ...more
Libby
Dec 14, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007-misses
This collection of short stories is lifeless. It's everything I hate about writing: boring stories that take place in "exotic" locations, featuring "interesting" charcters, written by a 29 year old white guy invested in authenticity. Uggh.
Tim Storm
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dude can write. True, his tone is often a bit detached. Even though he's capable of great imaginative riffs, his voice doesn't vary much from one story to the other. He doesn't inhabit the voice of his characters. In the first two stories, the protagonists are called "the shell collector" and "the hunter." Not too intimate.

But his narration, which almost always carries with it a sort of omniscience even when he remains in 3rd limited, allows him to do some great things with landscape and with p
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Laura
3.75 stars. These stories all share a common thread, which is that they reveal the power and beauty of nature and the relative frailty of human beings. Every time one seemed to fall into a pattern or became a bit predictable, the author turned it on its head and pulled the rug out from under me. I really enjoyed that.

His writing calls to mind Colum McCann, and if you haven't experienced his stuff yet, you might want to think about it. Doerr's prose is spare and precise. He doesn't waste time ge
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Alice Lippart
A good collection with some really strong stories, especially in the beginning. Lovely atmosphere and writing. Unfortunately though, by the end, the stories got a bit repetitive and I felt myself getting a little bored.
Nola
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This is the debut short story collection from Anthony Doerr, the winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for his book 'All the Light We Cannot See'. Published in 2002, the eight stories in this book shows glimpses of Doerr's mastery. His descriptions and imagery are superb. I started jotting down sentences I particularly liked, but I feel I could buy a copy purely to mark up as a study of short-story writing. Here are just a few examples:

'Her mother's face retreats inside itself like a poked sea anemo
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Judy
The Shell Collector: such a simple life of peace, but that peace was shattered so quickly by people wanting something from him
The Hunters Wife: Not sure how I feel about this one. Usually I enjoy the mythical and esoteric type of tale, but this one was strangely cold and dispassionate.
So Many Chances: beautiful story of a young starting to find herself. Incredibly written with wonderful word pictures painting the scene. Loved this story

For a Long Time This Was Griselda's Story. Set over a time s
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Matthew
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Utterly fantastic in every regard. Every story is truly special, and many will stay with you long after you've finished them.

Doerr's order here, too, is especially spot-on. The title story hooks you in and "The Hunter's Wife" and "So Many Chances" keep the momentum going. Unlike so many short sorry collections that fizzle out, this one roars to the end. "Mkondo", the final story, is my personal favorite. It is so good, in fact, you will hang on every word, not wanting it to end.

Also impressive
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Maya Lang
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've recently been experiencing short story fatigue (with my own shorts more than anyone else's). Then along came Anthony Doerr. If I tried to describe any of his plots to you, you'd conclude that they sound absurd. My only conclusion is that Doerr has held onto that impulse that gets us to tell stories in the first place. These are not quiet, formulaic stories told in a certain hushed workshop voice of restraint. These are stories of the improbable, stories that break the mold, imbued with magi ...more
anežka
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tak jsem se pouze a jen utvrdila v tom, že Doerr má opravdu neskutečný talent. Osm příběhů, které reflektují lásku, kroky do neznáma a neskutečné krajiny. Mimo to všechno musí být Doerr naprostým génium, takový přehled o biologii, neprobádaných krajinách a ještě to sepsat ve čtivé podobě?
Scottaggart
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, wow, wow! They say you should only write about what you know, well this guy must know everything. Amaaazing writer!
Jessica McCann
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely collection of stories. They each have a tie to nature, feature lush description and character depth, and explore the relationship between humanity and the natural world. There were a couple stories that didn’t necessarily grab me, but I enjoyed most of them. My favorite was The Hunter’s Wife. I would love to see it expanded into novel length, because I wanted to spend more time with the characters.
Nathaniel
This collection starts strong, then it starts to seem like this guy's instrument doesn't have too many strings and then he tries to write about Africans.

The first three stories are memorable and rewarding, pleasantly removed from day-to-day circumstances and romantically committed to unlikely pairings and second shots--"So Many Chances" I might read again just for pleasure. But, Doerr is hung up on female characters who aren't human (or female)--one dimensional fantasy objects for boy poets who
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Garlan ✌
A great collection of stories! I loved them all.
Mark
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: story-collection
It is no secret, that I am a fan of All the Light We Cannot See, so I was interested in exploring some of his earlier work, including his first story collection, from 2003. Not a surprise- the guy can write. He grabs you right away with the title story, featuring a blind malacologist, who finds joy in collecting shells. Doerr shifts effortlessly, from the Kenyan coast, to an Ohio suburb, to the wilds of Montana, in these various tales. He also has a deep understanding and passion, for nature and ...more
Kristýna
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: home-library, fiction
Anthony Doerr je opravdu mistr slova. Tenhle člověk dokázal, že i během pár stránek dokáže čtenáře doslova strhnout a nechává ho prožívat vše, jako by byl sám součást příběhu. Kaleidoskop povídek se mi líbil, všechny mě svým způsobem zasáhly. Jsou světla, která nevidíme je stále pro mě autorovou TOP, ale tohle bylo také úchvatné.

Jen škoda těch chyb v textu jako správné skloňování a překlepy. Je škoda, že zrovna u tohoto autora se toto stane a trochu to kazí i ten požitek ze čtení.
Lana Svitankova
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Абсолютно неймовірна збірка. Як намисто зі строкатих намистин. Як коробка цукерок асорті - всі різні, але всі смачні. Яка мова, які описи, які порівняння, мову відбирають і вмикають кінопроектор в голові, бо бачиш все, наче сам стоїш поруч. I'm in awe. Розкішно, бентежно і хвилююче. Давно мені не хотілося кинути все і сісти перекладати, але дайбо шоб я була так впевнена у своїх силах, щоб за це взятися. Дуже рекомендую оригінал.
Jen
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He's crackerjack. It's a diverse, engrossing collection. "The Caretaker" was probably the most heart-wrenching story I've ever read. But beautiful too.

I felt like the final story provided hope that could not be found in "The Caretaker" and it was nice to end on that note.
Christy
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read a lot of short story collections, so I don't know if I know the good from the bad, but I really enjoyed this collection a lot.
Pavle
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: takozvano-ostalo
Zbirka neverovatno lepih i dirljivih priča. Divan, elegantan stil koji se ne zaboravlja lako.
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What was your favorite story? 1 10 Aug 25, 2015 11:19AM  
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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
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“He wants to tell her that when things vanish they become something else, in death we rise again in the blades of grass, the splitting bodies of seeds.” 5 likes
“Memory gallops, then checks up and veers unexpectedly; to memory, the order of occurrence is arbitrary. Winkler was still on an airplane, hurtling north, but he was also pushing farther back, sinking deeper into the overlaps, to the years before he even had a daughter, before he had even dreamed of the woman who would become his wife.” 2 likes
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