Re-reading ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr

Okay, I finished reading Micky Spillane’s Kiss Me, Deadly–which ended with a lot of people getting killed–and am now re-reading Anthony Doerr’s book while waiting for my Cormac McCarthy book to arrive. Quite a change of pace moving from rough and tumble private eye stuff to this beautifully written Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

While I enjoy re-reading books, I would prefer reading factory-fresh new books, though neither my budget nor the space in our small house will support the arrival of two or three new books per week. So, like a lot of you (perhaps), I spend more time re-reading than first-time reading.

As an author, I spend time writing, though oddly enough, I write better when the little grey cells (as detective Poirot always said of his brain) are engaged in an interesting book. The books I read are nothing like the books I write; that means I never have to worry about inadvertent plagiarism. As far as I know, nobody writes like me, so I can’t even accidentally borrow another author’s plots or dialogue.

Doerr has a few blurbs about this book on his website including the comment by “Vanity Fair” that ““Anthony Doerr again takes language beyond mortal limits.” We would all like reviews like that. Sadly, books written by small press authors are never seen by reviewers who write comments like that. We are more or less anonymous and invisible, the upside being that few writers are likely to “borrow” plots and dialogue from our books.

Like most authors, I read better than I write. All The Light We Cannot See is a gem, the kind of work I feel fortunate to have on my shelf to I have something to do at an age when, as some bad writer once said, my get up and go as got up and went.

How about you? Do you find yourself reading cereal boxes or re-reading old stuff on your bookshelf more often than reading something new?

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism, paranormal, and contemporary fantasy novels and short stories. 

A readers’ advisory for this collection of nine stories forecasts widely scattered ghosts with a chance of rain. Caution is urged at the following uncertain places: an abandoned mental hospital, the woods behind a pleasant subdivision, a small fishing village, a mountain lake, a long-closed theater undergoing restoration, a feared bridge over a swampy river, a historic district street at dusk, the bedroom of a girl who waited until the last minute to write her book report from an allegedly dead author, and the woods near a conjure woman’s house.

In effect from the words “light of the harvest moon was brilliant” until the last phrase “forever rest in peace,” this advisory includes—but may not be limited to—the Florida Panhandle, northwest Montana, central Illinois, and eastern Missouri.