Memory Wall

Memory Wall

Stories

Paperback - 2011
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Set on four continents, stories about memory.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2011.
Edition: 1st Scribner trade pbk. ed.
ISBN: 9781439182840
1439182841
Characteristics: 267 p. ; 22 cm.

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wyenotgo
Dec 04, 2019

Opening a new book with high expectations can be a perilous step; after "All the Light We Cannot See" I began to fear disappointment creeping in. Until I came to "Village 113". This is about the loss of PLACE, a loss that can be the most devastating of all. Place is part of our existence. I recall having visited my birthplace after many years, only to find: nothing. No house, no trees, no garden, not even a roadside culvert; no trace of any human habitation ever having existed there. It was a traumatic experience: an essential attribute of my existence as a person had been erased, as if I had never been born. You may dismiss this as nostalgia, having never experienced it. So be it; I know what I know. What also pervades this story is the notion of continuity, without which an individual life loses meaning:
"What is a seed but the purest kind of memory, a link to every generation that has gone before it?"
Unlike many other readers, I found "Afterworld" less compelling. Although disturbing, it mostly just left me sad. Apart from "Memory Wall" which could be considered a novelette, the rest of the stories are essentially vignettes — very well written but inconsequential. A common theme of memory, damaged lives and loss permeates each story.
In the added story "The Deep", we are again dealing with damaged lives. Having witnessed first hand the second economic devastation of Detroit near the end of the 20th century, this account of life in that unfortunate city during the depression certainly resonated with me.
If I seem to be half-hearted in my praise of the book, that can be attributed to overly high expectations, along with the limitations that the short-subject format imposes on any book. Doerr's prose is of the highest caliber and he captures and holds his audience without fail. I look forward to reading the rest of his work.

RogerDeBlanck Jul 27, 2018

This excellent collection reflects Doerr’s signature use of stunning prose and amazing details to tell stories of great emotional depth. The beauty of the writing alone will keep you interested, but the real draw to Doerr’s work is the pulsing degree of humanity present in his resilient characters. No adversity is overwhelming enough to contain the abundance of their spirits as they quest towards finding moments of peace and grace. His characters possess an endurance that makes you genuinely care about them. Regardless of the circumstances he explores, Doerr’s stories always make you reconnect with a belief in hope, which he reminds us is very much alive in this world so often steeped in despair.

h
haileyj
Nov 12, 2015

This collection of short stories just blew me away! As far as short stories go, it`s the best collection I`ve ever read. Some of the stories will stay with me forever as they seemed so real. The title story about the woman`s memories being recorded on cassettes is just amazing and beautifully describes how one`s life is really just a collection of memories.

Beautiful short stories, I will remember several of them for years, I am sure. The couple trying to conceive a child was so 'true'. The story of Ester getting out of Germany, chosen by the Jewish doctor to be pirated to USA rather than to the concentration camp... I had to close the book and cry! I wish the 'memory wall' was the last story to leave the reader on a happier note, but overall this is a great compilation for the avid short story fan.

j
junebug49
Jul 21, 2011

A magnificent, award-winning group of six stories, covering continents and decades of experiences related to memories. These stories continue lingering in my own memory.

debwalker Dec 09, 2010

Traversing settings from South Africa to Wyoming to Lithuania to suburban Cleveland, and in time from the Holocaust to a near-term dystopian future, in this outstanding short story collection Doerr probes the subject of memory in evocative prose that only enhances the richness of these consistently moving tales.

Anthony Doerr has won the $20,000 Story Prize for his collection Memory Wall (Scribner), a book of six stories set in locales around the globe and sharing memory as a key element. Memory Wall is his fourth book and second short story collection.

The judges commented: "It is the shimmering space between the two planes of reality and memory that Doerr captures with immense sensitivity. He is adept at evoking a variety of places and different times in history, conjuring sharp settings in which the fragility of his characters is played out. The diversity of backgrounds underscores his poetic skill at illustrating his themes of emotional distancing and the resilience of hope. While he displays a rare imagination in the handling of his subjects, he maintains a beautiful and quiet grace in his precise, spare style, providing a harmonious resonance to all of the stories."

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