Anthony Doerr writes large books with an epic sweep. They feature dramatic action but also layered descriptions with particularly sparkling language. Per The Writer, Doerr knows this can be a lot for some readers. In a 530-page novel like All the Light We Cannot See, he keeps many of the chapters to just a page or two:
Because I’m a fairly lyrical and dense writer, I felt like it would be nice to give the reader these white spaces, these bursts of recovery time … Like a little bit of oxygen before diving back in again
Sometimes it can just take you a while to get around to that book that everybody has been reading. Anthony Doerr’s fairly beloved novel All the Light We Cannot See has been hanging around on the bestseller lists pretty much since it was published last summer, and for good reason. It’s not just the France-during-the-occupation setting or the gorgeous language, though both of those attributes help, of course. It has a magic to it, plain and simple.
All the Light We Cannot See is available in hardcover everywhere, with a paperback edition scheduled for this December; my review is at PopMatters:
Like many great novels of the Second World War and other epic clashes of civilizations, Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See is a story of the grandeur of terror. At least it begins that way. It’s August 1944 in Saint-Malo, a venerable seaside town on the northwestern coast of France. The Allies have landed and are steadily punching their way out of Normandy. The war is nearing another crescendo of death…