Opinion| All the Light We Cannot See

Creative Corner

A Novel by Anthony Doerr

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=4O6a4f_0fMNPDJZ00
Photo of the Original Book

Many books are read, but few are cherished. This is a book to relish, and you won't want it to end. There is strong imagery throughout. The book also provides insights into other people's feelings and love.

World War II is the setting for the novel. Most of the action takes place in Europe, especially France and Germany. In the story, Marie Laure, a young girl who lost her eyesight at an early age, plays the lead role. Daniel Leblanc, her father, is a locksmith who makes models of Paris so his daughter can navigate the city on her own. Also, we meet Werner who lives in an orphanage in Germany with his sister Jutta. Werner manages to recycle a radio which provides them with exposure to the outside world. Radio broadcasts tales of beautiful flowers, stars, and birds. It is a book about the awful, inhumane days of World War 2, but it is also a story about the kindness that we are capable of. Its language adds to the beauty of this book. By using lively details, the writer makes it easy to visualize the locations where these innocent characters travelled. He connects the readers to his characters and places. If you are fascinated with history, this book is also a great read, and we all wish to know how and why that cruel war ended. It may have flaws in the plot, but the storytelling is so fascinating that you will continue until the end.

Enjoy these few selected excerpts from this amazing book:

There is pride, too, though — pride that he has done it alone that his daughter is so curious, so resilient. There is the humility of being a father to someone so powerful, as if he were only a narrow conduit for another, greater thing. That’s how it feels right now, he thinks, kneeling beside her, rinsing her hair: as though his love for his daughter will outstrip the limits of his body. The walls could fall away, even the whole city, and the brightness of that feeling would not wane. The drain moans; the cluttered house crowds in close.
I have been feeling very clearheaded lately and what I want to write about today is the sea. It contains so many colors: Silver at dawn, green at noon, and dark blue in the evening. Sometimes it looks almost red. Or it will turn the color of old coins. Right now the shadows of clouds are dragging across it, and patches of sunlight are touching down everywhere. White strings of gulls drag over it like beads.
You know the greatest lesson of history? It’s that history is whatever the victors say it is. That’s the lesson. Whoever wins, that’s who decides the history. We act in our own self-interest. Of course we do. Name me a person or a nation who does not. The trick is figuring out where your interests are.

We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm. The lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us.
What mazes there are in this world? The branches of trees, the filigree of roots, the matrix of crystals, the streets her father recreated in his models… None more complicated than the human brain, Etienne would say, what may be the most complex object in existence; one wet kilogram within which spin universes.
To shut your eyes is to guess nothing of blindness. Beneath your world of skies and faces and buildings exists a rawer and older world, a place where surface planes disintegrate and sounds ribbon in shoals through the air. Marie-Laure can sit in an attic high above the street and hear lilies rustling in marshes two miles away. She hears Americans scurry across farm fields, directing their huge cannons at the smoke of Saint-Malo; she hears families sniffling around hurricane lamps in cellars, crows hopping from pile to pile, flies landing on corpses in ditches; she hears the tamarinds shiver and the jays shriek and the dune grass burn; she feels the great granite fist, sunk deep into the earth’s crust, on which Saint-Malo sits, and the ocean teething at it from all four sides, and the outer islands holding steady against the swirling tides; she hears cows drink from stone troughs and dolphins rise through the green water of the Channel; she hears the bones of dead whales stir five leagues below, their marrow offering a century of food for cities of creatures who will live their whole lives and never once see a photon sent from the sun. She hears her snails in the grotto drag their bodies over the rocks.

In a corner of the city, inside a tall, narrow house at Number 4 rue Vauborel, on the sixth and highest floor, a sightless sixteen-year-old named Marie-Laure LeBlanc kneels over a low table covered entirely with a model. The model is a miniature of the city she kneels within, and contains scale replicas of the hundreds of houses and shops and hotels within its walls. There’s the cathedral with its perforated spire, and the bulky old Château de Saint-Malo, and row after row of seaside mansions studded with chimneys. A slender wooden jetty arcs out from a beach called the Plage du Môle; a delicate, reticulated atrium vaults over the seafood market; minute benches, the smallest no larger than apple seeds, dot the tiny public squares.
Her fingers travel back to the cathedral spire. South to the Gate of Dinan. All evening she has been marching her fingers around the model, waiting for her great-uncle Etienne, who owns this house, who went out the previous night while she slept, and who has not returned. And now it is night again, another revolution of the clock, and the whole block is quiet, and she cannot sleep.
When she opens the bedroom window, the noise of the airplanes becomes louder. Otherwise, the night is dreadfully silent: no engines, no voices, no clatter. No sirens. No footfalls on the cobbles. Not even gulls. Just a high tide, one block away and six stories below, lapping at the base of the city walls. And something else.

Attributions(Sources Cited): The quoted excerpts are taken from the original book, All the Light We Cannot See. Images are taken by the permission of artists on Unsplash

Comments / 5

Published by

Muhammad Nasrullah Khan is the publisher of Creative Corner. His short stories and poems are well-recognized internationally for his unique style. His creative work has appeared in Adbusters, Evergreen review, Indiana Voice Journal, Newtopia Magazine, Gowanus Books,Offcourse literary Journal University at Albany, The Raven Chronicles, and many others. His book is available on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08D7WZXVL

947 followers

More from Creative Corner

Comments / 0