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Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
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's review
Jul 25, 2011

bookshelves: nathan-library

“We wake, if we ever wake at all, to mystery, rumors of death, beauty, violence.”

Whatever Dillard came searching for down at Tinker Creek in Virginia, she found this. It emerged in simple forms of mantises, sycamores, muskrats, and parasitic insects.

No matter how I slice the book, I will drain it of its juice. Dillard is a masterful wordsmith with an eye for mundane richness. She dabbles in biology, theology, philosophy, entomology, and physics. While standing on old stumps, she reaches handfuls of clouds.

“Say even that you are sitting across the kitchen table from me right now. Our eyes meet; a consciousness snaps back and forth. What we know, at least for starters, is: here we--so incontrovertibly--are. This is our life, these are our lighted seasons, and then we die…. In the meantime, in between time, we can see.” (Chapter 8)

I’m not sure how else to describe this book except that it is a commentary on seeing. Annie Dillard, who is “in the market for some present tense,” has a knack for seeing. And she shares it. At one point, I put down the book and looked (really looked) at my own hand. Dillard gave me new eyes.

If you didn’t like Thoreau’s Walden genre, this won’t be for you. Otherwise, it’s a truly beautiful, thoughtful meditation well worth the pilgrimage.
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03/26/2016 marked as: read

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