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Likely Stories - Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr

Mysterious and exciting story of multiple aspects.

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Anthony Doerr set his recent novel in Constantinople in the fifteenth century, in a small town in present-day Idaho, and on an interstellar ship decades from now. Cloud Cuckoo Land is a gorgeous tale of imagination and compassion, a story about children near adulthood who find hope—and a book.


Constance is “a fourteen-year-old girl sits cross-legged on the floor of a circular vault. A mass of curls haloes her head; her socks are full of holes. This is Konstance. // Behind here, inside a translucent cylinder that rises sixteen feet from floor to ceiling, hangs a machine composed of trillions of golden threads, none thicker than a human hair. Each filament twines around thousands of other entanglements of astonishing intricacy. Occasionally a bundle somewhere along the surface of the machine pulses with light: now there. This is Sybil. [ ] Light comes from a ring of diodes in the ceiling; there is no visible exit” (5).


Anna, “on the fourth Hill of the city we call Constantinople, but which the inhabitants at the time simply called the City, across the street from the convent of Saint Theophano the Empress, in the once great embroidery house of Nicholas, lives an orphan named Anna. She does not speak until she’s three. Then then it’s all questions all the time. // ‘Why do we breathe, Marie?’ // ‘Why don’t horses have fingers?’ // ‘If I eat a raven’s egg will my hare turn black?’ // ‘Does the moon fit inside the sun, Maria, or is the other way around?’” (33).


His first shot buried itself somewhere in the romance novels. His second hit the man with the eyebrows in the left shoulder and spun him. The man lowered himself to one knee, set the backpack on the carpet as though it were a large and fragile egg, and began crawling away from it. // Move, says a voice in Seymour’s head. Run. But his legs refused. Minerals of panic glitter in the air, Jean Jacques Rousseau, in a green-spined hardcover that’s right over there, one shelf away, JC179.R, said: You are lost, if you forgot that the fruits of the earth belong equally to us all, and the earth itself to nobody! // Go. Now.

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr is a story with pleasantries, mysteries, and lots of fun. 5 Stars!

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and happy reading!