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For the Time Being

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4.16  ·  Rating details ·  3,007 Ratings  ·  371 Reviews
From Annie Dillard, one of the most compelling writers of our time, comes her most profound narrative yet. With her keen eye, penchant for paradox, and yearning for truth, Dillard renews our ability to discover wonder in lifes smallestand darkestcorners.Why do we exist? Where did we come from? How can one person matter? Dillard searches for answers in a powerful array of i ...more
Audiobook, 0 pages
Published March 18th 2011 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published March 1st 1999)
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JES
About 20 years ago, I met a guy -- a writer whose opinions I respected, even admired -- whose response to Annie Dillard's writing took me completely by surprise. He hated it. As I recall, he used words like "pretentious," "overrated," and "pretty" (that last may have had quotation marks of its own around it).

Given that I was in mid-swoon at the time from my first exposure to her work, I couldn't really muster a defense other than of the to-each-his-own sort. Since that time, though, as a non-con
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I like this book slightly less than Dillard's other books because she uses other people's words more than her own. For some people, that might make this book stronger, but I miss her being the strongest presence. This combines a French philosopher/Jesuit priest who would turn out to be one of the most important paleontologists of the 20th century, Hasidic Judaism, scientific information on sand, and a personal journey through the middle east. But it isn't about those things - the book is really ...more
Lauren
Affirmation that Dillard's words are crafted so spectacularly that I had to pause the audio, and listen again and again. Her mix of science and spirit are so fully engaging - here she threads stories of mystical Judaism (early rabbinic merkabah with later kabbalah, and Lubavitcher Hasidism) alongside reflections of newborn babies with severe deformities; the science and life cycle of a particle of sand, mating snails, and the writings of Teilhard de Chardin, the French Jesuit priest/paleontologi ...more
Christina
Apr 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Annie Dillard is the best writer on the planet. Period.

"The sight of a cleaned clay soldier upright in a museum case is unremarkable, and this is all that future generations will see. No one will display those men crushed beyond repair; no one will display their lose parts; no one will display them crawling from the walls. Future generations will miss the crucial sight of ourselves as rammed earth."

"Standing again, rubbing my fingers together, I found more stone stairways, more levels, and the s
...more
Richard Gilbert
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this audacious little book Annie Dillard ponders God, the holiness of newborns, and any individual’s insignificance in geologic time. Her prose is astringent, with wry appreciation for the brilliant and for the genuine among us; with a barely controlled horror at our animal fates and our capacity for indifference and evil. She unfolds this meditation in discrete chunks; each of the book’s seven chapters is divided into segments, more or less these and in this order:

• Birth (especially horrifi
...more
Maureen Clark
Annie Dillard takes on the biggest questions of our existence. Why do we exist? How can one person matter? Dillard approaches these questions, not so much to fnd the answer as to explore what it means to exist and matter. Whether she is exploring the genetic slip-ups of human malformations or Teilhard's palentological explorations in China she is herself delving into the meaning of being a human being in a particular place and time, experiencing the history of that particular time and place. At ...more
Lynn
Oct 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've moved so much that I've given almost all books away. This is one I've saved. I've lost it twice, replaced it twice. I can't remember the last time I opened it, yet I would feel lost without it. Once, this was my cure for anxiety. Overcome, I would open it at random and read until I felt better. On the one hand, it affirms the uniqueness and wonder of all things. On the other, it reminds us of how insignificant we are in our universe of mind-boggling numbers. Both of these themes are develop ...more
Cheryl
Another Dillard favorite in a very different way. I think she is the wisest woman on the planet, and I would love if she started a church.
Her themes:
birth-sand-china-clouds-numbers-israel-encounters-thinker-evil-now

Is it not late? A late time to be living? Are not our generations the crucial ones? For we have changed the world. Are not our heightened times the important ones? For we have nuclear bombs. Are we not especially significant because our century is? - our century and its unique Holoca
...more
Jacob
Oct 21, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well... juicy bits here and there, but the choppy narrative is challenging. But challenging is good! OK, then, at times it's more than challenging; it stretches credulity and feels contrived or precious or, worse, like paint splattered on a canvas. "Find meaning, or call my bluff!" the artist taunts. "Fuck off, this is shit, this isn't honest!" I yell back.

That said, there are good bits, lovely bits. Much of the natural description, and the spiritual meditations, and most of the historical quota
...more
Kathleen
This was a rare book for me - one that made me stop, savor what I had read, and occasionally go back and reread for clarity. Life, death, God, evil, suffering, bird headed dwarves - Annie Dillard delves into them all and weaves her introspection into a something beautiful. I was left seriously pondering my own existence, my place in the world and what more I should be doing to be actively living. So, so many things I loved about this book, but have been particularly fixated on the idea of dirt, ...more
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Annie Dillard (born April 30, 1945) is an American author, best known for her narrative prose in both fiction and non-fiction. She has published works of poetry, essays, prose, and literary criticism, as well as two novels and one memoir. Her 1974 work Pilgrim at Tinker Creek won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Dillard taught for 21 years in the English department of Wesleyan Unive ...more
More about Annie Dillard...
“We live in all we seek.” 48 likes
“There were no formerly heroic times, and there was no formerly pure generation. There is no one here but us chickens, and so it has always been: A people busy and powerful, knowledgeable, ambivalent, important, fearful, and self-aware; a people who scheme, promote, deceive, and conquer; who pray for their loved ones, and long to flee misery and skip death. It is a weakening and discoloring idea, that rustic people knew God personally once upon a time-- or even knew selflessness or courage or literature-- but that it is too late for us. In fact, the absolute is available to everyone in every age. There never was a more holy age than ours, and never a less.” 34 likes
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