All The Light We Cannot See

I am in love with writer Anthony Doerr’s work. I can’t tell you how happy I am to finally find his books. When Laura was ill, I lost the desire to read fiction. It was such a surprise. I am a literature major who typically devours a handful of novels a month. But now I find I toss almost everything aside, flummoxed after a chapter or two. Perhaps it is because the reality I have been living seems more extraordinary than anything on the fictional page.

But it is a joy to read Doerr’s writing. Even though his characters lives aren’t easy – his fictional figures often miscommunicate, separate and suffer great losses, there is a magic there; an enchantment with the natural world and a constant reflection on spiritual connections which operate outside of our normal range of knowing.

In his beautiful short story The Hunter’s Wife, a young girl is gifted with the ability to touch a sleeping animal or human and see their dreams. As she gets older, she can read into the minds of dead animals and people, reporting back to their loved ones that; ‘death can seem so final, like a blade dropped through your center…[but].. the nature of death is not at all is only a transition, like so many others.’

Doerr says his ambition for his writing is ‘to nudge people towards the miracles of this world’  and to ‘challenge people’s beliefs’  Last year he won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel All The Light We Cannot See.  His title references the extraordinary scientific fact that we humans perceive less than one ten trillionth of the electromagnetic spectrum.  In other words, our lives are built on an illusion. We feel we see and experience our world fully, but Like Doerr’s lead character Marie-Laure we are as good as blind. Of course, some people sense more than others, but it is still only a vague intimation.

To me the best of Doerr’s writing reads like poetry. At the end of  All The Light We Cannot See, one character, who has suffered extraordinary loss, marvels at all the invisible radio waves in the world; ‘passing through buildings, arcing between transmitters…over the scarred and ever shifting landscapes we call nations..’ and asks ‘is it so hard to believe that souls might also travel those paths? .. That great shuttles of souls might fly about, faded but audible if you listen closely enough? They flow above the chimneys, ride the sidewalks, slip through your jacket and shirt and breastbone and lungs, pass out through the other side. The air is a library and record of every life lived, every sentence spoken, every word transmitted still reverbrating within it.’



10 Comments Add yours

  1. ml says:

    I am 88th on the list of 244 holds at the NYPL for Doerr’s book.


    1. Lucie Young says:

      the librarian told me a trick – you order the large print version. I did and it arrived in a week. Otherwise I was 580-something on the list. and to my great delightthe large print wasn’t that large…or embarrassing to carry around..


  2. Wow, seems like this author is really popular…perhaps I should give him a try. I am fascinated by these topics, too. I feel similar with reading literature since my accident as you feel since Laura’s illness. I can’t muster the patience and endurance to read a fictional book anymore. No matter what the content is, I get bored and impatient after the first page or two. I am a little weird with my reading habits since my hospital bed (4 years ago). The only readings I have done are Eckhart Tolle’s “New Earth”, “The Power of Now”, and Marianne Williamson’s “A Return to Love”. I have been reading these same books over and over and over again….nothing else.


    1. Lucie Young says:

      I totally understand. I’ve mostly been reading non fiction spiritual books. I suggest you try ‘About Grace'(the main character has lots of premonitions – some good and some bad) or ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ by Doerr. I know we are not all the same in our taste and what speaks to one may not speak to another. But there is a great beauty in his descriptions of the natural world and the books are seamed with a faint tracery of spiritual gold – at least it feels that way to me.


    2. Mary says:

      I have been obsessed with Eckhart Tolle also for the last 5 years. This year I have expanded out to Pema Chodron. I have a bunch of her lectures on a flash drive that I can listen to while I’m driving. I have read Tolle over and over also, it takes a lot of repetition for it to sink in I think. Try some Pema you may like it.


      1. I have never heard of Pema Chodron. Will google her some time. Thanks for the hint, Mary.

        Lucie, I need something inspirational (something new) to read when my husband is in the hospital. He will have cancer surgery on the 7th of March. I know readings are very individual (we all have different tastes and preferences). But when Laura was in the hospital, and both of you had hope for recovery, was there anything she or you read that gave you hope. I know about your juicing and the Gerson therapy. Well, my husband is not up for this. He doesn’t want to change his diet. Any reading suggestions are welcome; I will have a look into it and then decide on my own, if it is for me. Thanks. xoxo


        1. Lucie Young says:

          oh my dear, I will send up prayers for you and your husband. I know this must be a very difficult time for you both.

          One cancer treatment (developed by 3 international scientists) which I learned about after Laura passed and which medical friends in Europe have told me is astonishingly successful (and is available to Americans too) is GcMAF. It was featured in the November 2014 issue of WDDTY Magazine. Here is a youtube interview with David Noakes, UK producer of Gcmaf

          I have no first hand experience of this treatment. I gather it is like an extreme form of probiotic which you take orally to boost the immune system. I’ve read it helps fight off many diseases including cancer. The treatment does involve some dietary changes, but I think they advise a ketone diet (nothing like the gerson diet).

          This is the UK site of immunobiotech, the main producers of gcmaf The founder is David Noakes their UK tel is 011 44 1481 714 775. There are doctors in the US that prescribe it. But again, I haven’t researched it. I only recently found out about it

          To be honest, I think any kind of gentle emotionally supportive help that you can provide will be a blessing. Sometimes, as caregivers, soothing our own fears and being as present as possible is the best we can do. If your husband believes in the surgeon and the surgery he is doing, then he is following the best path for him. At least for now.

          Sending you a warm healing light to encircle you. And holding you in my prayers, Lucie xx


      2. Lucie Young says:

        Thanks Mary. Yes. I have a couple of Pema Chodron’s books and Eckhart Tolle’s classic ‘The Power of Now’. Both good choices and stepping stones in my journey.


  3. Thank you very much, Lucie, for your kind words and prayers, and thank you also for the information on Gcmaf. I will check the website out and listen to the video. I just finished reading your blog comment now and wanted to send you a few words of appreciation right away.


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