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Paperback Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Book

ISBN: 0060915455

ISBN13: 9780060915452

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good*

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Book Overview

In the book which won her a Pulitzer Prize in 1975, Dillard writes in the form of a journal, trying to understand God by chronicling the seasons along Tinker Creek in Virginias Blue Ridge Mountains, and by exploring the paradoxical coexistence of beauty and violence.

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

A Firefly in the Night.

A beautiful overlap of poetry, philosophy, religion, ecology, and memoir. It feels thought-provoking, playful, soft, intentional, and raw. A writing style that pulls you into Dillard's brain and sparks curiosity and delight.

Quite possibly the finest book I've ever read... no kidding

In 1974, I read a review in Rolling Stone magazine about this very unusual book. The young, unpublished author lived in the Roanoke Valley in Virginia... and she and her husband had a small cabin near Tinker Creek. She told her husband she wanted to spend some time in and around that cabin... writing down what she thought, what she felt, what was meaningful to her about life and death and nature and God. He agreed... and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek was the result. Shortly after it was published she won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature... for this book. I had, and have, enough respect for the Pulitzer Prize to think this book might be worth reading. A couple of chapters into the book, however, I realized the Prize had NOTHING to do with the worth of what I was reading. This is a beautiful book... full of wonderful stories and experiences... replete with insights into nature and life I never had experienced or read about before. I simply cannot recommend this book enough to anyone who is interested in nature, life and the nature and beauty of existence. Annie Dillard has written a lot of material since this first book... essays, poetry, fiction... but this, I think, is such a beautiful exercise in thought and feeling and understanding of life... well, it is just infinitely worth reading and enjoying.

A worthy winner of the Pulitzer, 1975

It took me a long time to get around to reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and I?m actually glad I waited; I feel better able to appreciate all its nuances at my present age. Annie Dillard?s lovely book focuses on her experiences living at the edge of Tinker Creek in Virginia?s Blue Ridge mountains. It?s a lyrical ode to nature and also a meditation on our ability - or inability - to appreciate the natural world that surrounds us. For a book this thoughtful and thought-provoking, it?s interesting that it?s at times both very funny and very violent.This is a good book to keep on your bedside table and read in 50-page spurts between reading other books. It lends itself to thoughtful musing and shouldn?t be raced through at one long reading. Colorful anecdotes (about such things as the sexual habits of the praying mantis) are interspersed with questioning our ability to stay truly within the moment, to achieve ultimate awareness of our surroundings. Dillard, a consummate writer?s writer, can be both romantic and irreverent. She rhapsodizes at one moment, then at the next writes, ?Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly; insects, it seems, gotta do one horrible thing after another.?You gotta love it. And if you do, you gotta go right out and buy An American Childhood, an absolutely wonderful memoir of her youth in ? get this! ? Pittsburg. It?s living proof that a really good writer can make a stunning memoir out of a pretty mundane childhood.

Playing Seriously, Living Lightly, Beautifully Writing

I read this book every ten years or so. It may well be my favorite; it's right up there, anyway. (At my age, picking a favorite book is dangerous: I've probably forgotten about half the strong candidates.) It is, if you will, a connected series of "nature" essays. Each one is strong, and can stand alone, but all are bound by many threads into a larger whole. Annie Dillard moved to Tinker Creek, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, in her mid-twenties (or, at any rate, this book achieved final published form when she was twenty-nine). Like Thoreau, she came to the woods to "keep a meteorological journal of the mind". Indeed, "Walden" is the model: a person of reflective tendency steps out of the stream of life, as it were, to go to the woods, just to see what he or she can see. It turns out that one's own mind is a large part of the scenery when one gets away from the rough-and-tumble of society. Big mysteries are at stake here; it is somehow appropriate that looking with all attention at minute creatures and giving oneself over momentarily to ephemeral events provide clues. Why is nature cruel? Why is there beauty? Could these be related?I put it baldly, but these and other questions are more the expression on her writing's face than the subject of it. There are details, and funny descriptions, and a rifling through the wonders of her library of naturalists. But, always, there is a person doing all this: walking, having a sandwich, creeping up on a copperhead for a closer look (after patting her pocket to make sure the snakebite kit is there), or just lying in bed remembering a horrifying or glorious experience of that particular day, in the woods, on the banks of Tinker Creek.Have I mentioned the quality of the writing? It's glorious. Part of its appeal is her special mix of jokiness and vernacular combined with high-toned thinking and literary reference, her gee-whiz attitude toward outrageous natural facts always butting in. Part of it comes from her sheer likeability. But all that aside, words do her bidding, and always I find myself pausing and smiling at her mastery. She wonders about beauty, and reacts to beauty. She also, here, has created it."Nature is, above all, profligate. Don't believe them when they tell you how economical and thrifty nature is, whose leaves return to the soil. Wouldn't it be cheaper to leave them on the tree in the first place? This deciduous business alone is a radical scheme, the brainchild of a deranged manic-depressive with limitless capital. Extravagance! Nature will try anything once...No form is too gruesome, no behavior too grotesque. If you're dealing with organic compounds, then let them combine. If it works, if it quickens, then set it clacking in the grass; there's always room for one more; you ain't so handsome yourself. This is a spendthrift economy; though nothing is lost, all is spent." (chapter 4)

Back as a freshman...

As a freshman in High School, my Biology teacher assigned this book to the class to read and write a report on. This was the first book I read by Cook, and I greatly enjoyed it. This was the first assigned reading book that I actually enjoyed reading, but not only did I love the book, I've gone on to read more books by him. To my amazement, many of the people in the class with me, people who I didn't think would read more books by Cook, read other Cook books (pun not intended, really...) The book really kept you on your feet, but is also educational, and I really enjoyed it.

I keep coming back to this book...

I first read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek as an undergraduate at Southwest Missouri State University, in an exposition class. I loved it then and I love it now. I am currently taking a graduate seminar on approaches to teaching literature and have been given the opportunity to design my "dream course." Annie Dillard's Pulitzer Prize-winning literary journey is at the top of my list. I am disappointed to read the few comments from readers who didn't enjoy this book--I suspect they have not taken the time to fully explore Dillard's vision. The work is rich with details that are not just there for the sake of description. It is a carefully crafted prose narrative that delves into theology, existentialism, transcendentalism, and natural history, addressing the relationship between man and God. I would recommend reading Linda L. Smith's book, entitled Annie Dillard (one of Twayne's United States Authors series), for an enlightening analysis of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and other works by the author. If you are willing to open your eyes and mind wide enough, you will surely discover Pilgrim at Tinker Creek's treasures.
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