Doug Dillon's Reviews > Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
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Jun 11, 2012

it was amazing

Yes, this book won the Pulitzer Prize quite a few years ago. Just based on that, you know you will probably like it, right? Even so, I'm going to tell you why it has been of value to me.

You see, besides being a writer, I'm also a meditator in the Buddhist Vipassana tradition. Being very "mindful" of my thoughts and the world around me, even when not meditating, is an integral part of that practice.

One evening while talking with my meditation teacher, he recommended I read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, both from the perspective of a writer and also as a dedicated practitioner of meditation. Intrigued, I got a copy. Glad I did.

Annie Dillard is one hell of a writer, of that there is no doubt. Start there. I can only hope that in some lifetime I can write with such depth, feeling and clarity.

Speaking to the reader directly, Dillard delivers an unflinching narrative about her isolated existence during one entire year of her life. At her home in the mountains of Virginia, she launched a quest to understand the mysteries of life, violent death, God and all of existence. Yup, a very tall order by a very determined and clear-eyed woman.

When I think about what Dillard accomplished, I see it as a yearlong meditation retreat of the most "mindful" sort. Yes, she studied books during that year but mostly she peered into the complexities and patterns she found in the natural world around her. But really, during all that time up there in the mountains under the sun, moon and stars, she was also probing her own essence. As a reader, I thoroughly identified with her journey and you just might do the same.

The book is one of self discovery but also one of cosmic proportions. What a writer and what a fascinating human being.
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12/30/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Steve (new)

Steve Ballou Doug, this is a great book, and,just reading it, one feels like they are on retreat. I have attended many Buddhist retreats over the past 25 years, and, Annie is a 'natural' meditator'. I have discovered that many writers attempt to 'breathe life' into their stories and that effort suggests a process of mindfulness, don't you think? Retreats are so refreshing; I call it 'mind baths', where you wash out the tangles in your mind and a natural order becomes more vivid in a retreat, where your breath is 'just there' and there is no break between the surroundings and the meditator.
Thanks for bringing to us a great reading suggestion, Doug!

Doug Dillon Hi Steve,
You are so right. I like your term,'mind baths'. That's what retreats really are. I've got one coming up in a couple of weeks in Tampa. It's been over a year since I've attended one. Much too long a time away.
How have you been?


message 3: by Steve (new)

Steve Ballou Hi Doug,

I am busy but it's keeping me out of mischief. There is never enough hours in the day to do everything. I would like more time to read!
How are you coming along with Book II? Any projected time-frame for completion? I think about the characters you created as living beings and hope they are safe and out of harm's way.:)


Doug Dillon Steve,
Ah, staying out of mischief, eh? That's a good thing.

As for me, I have been spending much too much timein book marketing. Barb and I have 4 book signings set up for July and August at Ripley's Believe it or Not in St. Augustine - right at the edge of Jeff Golden's neighborhood. stunning amount of "coincidences" are weaving themselves together here. So much so, I even had to write a detailed blog posting about it all.

But you're right. I need to get on with Book II. I have it about 40% drafted and will jump back into it in July.


message 5: by Steve (new)

Steve Ballou Good luck with the book signings. I am sure Jeff will be glad to have you move him along in the creation of his on-going story.

Doug Dillon Thanks for looking out for my friend Jeff. He definitely needs all the help he can get. Have a great weekend, Steve.

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