Nationally acclaimed writer coming to College on Sept. 22

Anthony Doerr has been amazed by the natural world and everything in it since he was very young. It is this wonderment that fuels his passion and inspiration for writing that he will bring to Marietta College’s campus this fall.

“My sense of wonder at the natural world, in all my work, fiction and nonfiction, is what inspires me to write: I’ve always been interested in wonder and science and language,” Doerr said. “I remember reading C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia as a kid, probably 8 or 9 years old, and falling in love with it, with the idea of transporting—that simple black markings on a white page could transport me to such an amazing and rich environment.”

Doerr will bring his writings to life during a public reading at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 22, in the Alma McDonough Auditorium. He will be reading an essay entitled “Butterflies on a Wheel,” that was published in Granta, about seeing a butterfly migration on one particular drive across the long stretch between Idaho and Ohio and a piece from his forthcoming book of short stories that will come out next summer. Sponsored by the English Department, the reading will be followed by a reception in the McDonough Gallery where his books will be available for purchase and he will be available to sign them.

Dr. Bev Hogue, Director of the Worthington Center for Teaching Excellence and former Chair of the English Department, invited Doerr to Marietta after reading his work. 

“I’m excited about Anthony Doerr’s visit, not just because he is a terrific writer, but because he is an enthusiastic and engaging speaker,” Hogue said. “Years ago when I first read his collection of short stories, The Shell Collector, I told myself that we had to get Doerr to read here. Our students needed to read this! Since then he has published a novel, a memoir, and many more short stories, earning a number of impressive awards along the way, so we are delighted that our students will have an opportunity to hear and learn from such a talented author.”

Doerr is the author of three books, The Shell Collector, About Grace and Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World. The Shell Collector, a volume of eight short stories, was published in 2002 and won the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, two O. Henry Prizes, the Rome Prize, and the Ohioana Book Award. It was a New York Times Notable Book and an American Library Association Book of the Year. About Grace, a novel, was named a Best Book of 2004 by the Washington Post, won the Ohioana Book Award again and was a finalist for the PEN USA fiction award. In 2007, the British literary magazine Granta placed Doerr on its list of 21 Best Young American novelists.

Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and two sons. He currently teaches in the low-residency Master of Fine Arts program at Warren Wilson College. His book reviews have appeared in the New York Times and Der Spiegel, and he writes a regular column on science books for the Boston Globe. Until 2010, he is the Writer-in-Residence for the State of Idaho.

For Doerr, writing is something that certainly comes naturally with added mass amounts of practice and meticulous revisions. He writes for many reasons, but the wonderment that holds him so tightly to this world is the one reason that keeps him writing.

“Wonder has been the sort of thing I try to cultivate, and that I’ve been cultivating for 20-some years now by keeping a daily journal,” Doerr said. “Every day I’m thinking: What’s out there today that’s worth writing down? I write for the addictive pleasure of being an alchemist, of mixing things together to see what will come of it. I write for that same joy that I got from reading C.S. Lewis as a boy, the magic of trying to conjure a place, an entire landscape, with nothing more complicated or expensive than letters on a page.”