Note Two: Our Latest Favorite Book on Writing
Each month we in the Grotto Book Club pick a book to discuss. A recent choice was Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. I’ve been a Doerr fan since reading his memoir Four Seasons in Rome. His descriptive passages make clear why he is known as a nature writer. He crafts sentences that are at once stark and stirring, often availing himself of unusual verbs that carry a beautiful precision. (He and I once emailed discussion over his use of career, a great verb that most people avoid in favor of careen—not understanding that the two verbs have distinctly different denotations.) Here’s an example of a Doerr classic, from All the Light We Cannot See: “Rain purls from cloud to roof to eave.” Most mortals would have used Rain falls there. Rain purls is unexpected and perfect. The first, most common definition of to purl is to make a certain stitch in knitting. The second is “to flow with a swirling motion and babbling sound, as of a stream or river.” That’s what makes the verb so charming: it describes water, clearly, but brings to mind the curling, U-shaped stitch.
Note Four: Upcoming Classes
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