I had the great pleasure of interviewing Anthony Doerr for The Rumpus. I have been a fan of his work for a long time, and in fact his first collection of stories was one of the things that prompted me to become a writer in the first place. His new book, All the Light We Cannot See was recently released. Here's the intro to the interview:
ll the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr’s lovely new novel, interweaves the stories of Marie-Laure, a blind French girl, and Werner, an orphan who gets pulled into an academy for Hitler Youth. The book, written in short, elegant chapters, moves back and forth between these two narratives with the landscape of WWII always looming in the backdrop. With its unique structure and stunning descriptions, All the Light We Cannot See explores this vivid world, and is ultimately about the big and small moments that bring us together.
I first encountered Doerr’s work a decade ago when I picked up a copy of The Shell Collectorat a small bookstore in Seattle. I carried the book to a nearby coffee shop and spent the rainy afternoon reading it. I had recently graduated college, and I’m not sure if it was my uncertain future or the gloomy day, but this collection of stories had a profound effect on me. I found a precise kind of truth within those pages—the kind that captures human experience in only the way perfectly crafted stories can. I reveled in those wonderful sentences that afternoon, and since then I have always looked forward to reading Doerr’s work.
His books are wide-ranging—in both content and style—and always surprising. His inventive novel, About Grace, follows a hydrologist who has dreams that sometimes come true in the future. His next book, Four Seasons in Rome, is a memoir about a year spent in Rome with his family. Memory Wall, another dazzling and beautifully strange collection—of which the title story happens to be one of my all-time favorite pieces of writing—brings us a whole range of rich landscapes, from South Africa to Lithuania to China. All the Light We Cannot See is a book that was ten years in the making, and it is a remarkable novel, but perhaps more than anything, it has reminded me of Doerr’s extraordinary ability to bring together the elements—rhythm and imagery and tone—to somehow perfectly capture the most mysterious parts of our experience—love and fear and fate—with something so simple as a sentence.
You can read the interview at: The Rumpus