Robert Isenberg's Reviews > Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters

Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard
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's review
Oct 21, 2008

it was amazing

Annie Dillard is, unquestionably, one of the greatest nonfiction writers ever to live, and this, so far as I can tell, is one of her greatest books. I actually enjoyed it more than "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek," perhaps because the essays are a little more manageable, like relaxedly eating a bunch of your favorite cookies instead of an entire Black Forest Cake. The opening essay, about a total eclipse of the sun, remains my favorite, because it demonstrates Dillard's style through her most profound theme: horror and beauty happening at the same time. What *should* be a rare and magical event is also unbelievably creepy, because the world turns dark and - as she describes it - grayscale, like an old tin-type photograph, and this leaves her feeling alienated and fearful of apocalypse. Harmonizing patterns and chaos, Dillard's world is every mind I've ever admired rolled up into one.

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