Memory Wall

Memory Wall

Stories

  • reading group guide
In the wise and beautiful second collection from the acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author of All the Light We Cannot See, "Doerr writes about the big questions, the imponderables, the major metaphysical dreads, and he does it fearlessly" (The New York Times Book Review).

Set on four continents, Anthony Doerr's new stories are about memory, the source of meaning and coherence in our lives, the fragile thread that connects us to ourselves and to others. Every hour, says Doerr, all over the globe, an infinite number of memories disappear. Yet at the same time children, surveying territory that is entirely new to them, push back the darkness, form fresh memories, and remake the world.

In the luminous and beautiful title story, a young boy in South Africa comes to possess an old woman's secret, a piece of the past with the power to redeem a life. In "The River Nemunas," a teenage orphan moves from Kansas to Lithuania to live with her grandfather, and discovers a world in which myth becomes real. "Village 113," winner of an O'Henry Prize, is about the building of the Three Gorges Dam and the seed keeper who guards the history of a village soon to be submerged. And in "Afterworld," the radiant, cathartic final story, a woman who escaped the Holocaust is haunted by visions of her childhood friends in Germany, yet finds solace in the tender ministrations of her grandson.

Every story in Memory Wall is a reminder of the grandeur of life--of the mysterious beauty of seeds, of fossils, of sturgeon, of clouds, of radios, of leaves, of the breathtaking fortune of living in this universe. Doerr's language, his witness, his imagination, and his humanity are unparalleled in fiction today.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439182840 | 
  • July 2011
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Video

Author Anthony Doerr reveals the questions and inspiration behind MEMORY WALL

From award-winning author Tony Doerr, a new collection of stories that is even more compelling and accomplished.

Read an Excerpt

Memory Wall

TALL MAN IN THE YARD

Seventy-four-year-old Alma Konachek lives in Vredehoek, a suburb above Cape Town: a place of warm rains, big-windowed lofts, and silent, predatory automobiles. Behind her garden, Table Mountain rises huge, green, and corrugated; beyond her kitchen balcony, a thousand city lights wink and gutter behind sheets of fog like candleflames.

One night in November, at three in the morning, Alma wakes to hear the rape gate across her front door rattle open and someone enter her house. Her arms jerk; she spills a glass of water across the nightstand. A floorboard in the living room shrieks.... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Memory Wall includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


INTRODUCTION


Set on four continents, the stories in this stunning collection are about memory, the source of meaning and coherence in our lives, the fragile thread that connects us to ourselves and others. Every hour, says author Anthony Doerr, all over the globe, an infinite number of memories disappear. Yet at the same time children, surveying territory entirely new to them, form fresh memories and remake the world. Every story in Memory Wall is a reminder of the grandeur of life—of the mysterious beauty of seeds, of fossils and fish, of clouds and radios and leaves, of the breathtaking fortune of living in this universe.


TOPICS & QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1. The characters in Anthony Doerr's stories are different ages, live on four different continents, and have diverse life experiences. How are they similar? Which universal themes about memory are contained in each story?

2. In the story “Memory Wall,” memories can literally be found in cartridges that are produced at the memory clinic. What other m see more

About the Author

Anthony Doerr
Photo Credit: Shauna Doerr

Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr is the author of the story collections Memory Wall and The Shell Collector, the novels All the Light We Cannot See and About Grace, and the memoir Four Seasons in Rome. He has won numerous prizes, including four O. Henry Prizes, three Pushcart Prizes, the Rome Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, the National Magazine Award for fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Story Prize. Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and two sons.

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