Reader reviews for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Something to reread when you are losing touch
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This book is a beautiful essay on the joy and wonder of seeing Nature. I just love this book. Annie Dillard writes about the mystical beauty and mystery of nature.
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"I was still ringing. I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck." For me, this quote captures both the pilgrim spirit and the poetic beauty of this collection of interwoven essays. Dillard's prose is exquisite. Her fascination with the natural world, freshly revealed on every page, is thoroughly contagious.
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I want to like Annie Dillard, I really do. I think the world is a better place because Annie Dillard thinks and writes as she does. But, the bugs. Lots and lots of looking at, thinking about, and describing bugs. Some other creatures too, both larger and smaller than bugs, but mostly bugs. As much as I appreciate the conclusions Dillard draws about the natural world and the nature of God, her minute observations about critters and plants could barely hold my attention. I took pious pleasure in finishing the book, like I had done something that, while a little boring, had it’s interesting moments and made me a better person – kind of like going to church.
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The first thing that grabbed my attention as I began reading this book is the loveliness of its prose. The sentences are long and vivid and full of color. After forty or so pages, the line between colorful and purple begins to blur. Throughout the books, there are lines, or even a whole page, that shines. The sentiment and the language converge and deliver some powerful declaration, or pose excellent some cosmic query. However, the book slogs after awhile. I think you must go into Tinker Creek expecting highly self-referential field notes on wildlife, complimented by quotations and views Dillard uncovers in whatever she is reading at the time of such observations, and peppered with Biblical allusions. Dillard isn't necessarily preachy here, the allusions fit nicely enough within the wonder of her setting, but they sometimes feel a bit forced rather natural, as though she had to meet some quota on biblical references. At her best, Dillard shows us the majesty of nature through her eyes, all at once violent and beautiful. Despite this, I was frequently bored with her descriptions. It all began to seem too familiar. A uniquely presented work, but I suppose I'd be more apt to return to Barry Lopez if I wanted to run about the wild and winged things of the Earth.
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I needed to read a book like this right now. Dillard appreciates things within nature like a small child or a born-blind person with new sight.. noticing things down to the tiniest detail. (Literally -- she occasionally busts out a microscope and takes a gander at pond scum.) I only wish I was like that. I learned a ton of stunning nature based facts. And like I said, I really needed to read something nature based and appreciative of the little things. (I'm at the point of wishing I was sitting solitary in the middle of the woods and what better way to do things you can't really do than to read about it? Nature is always there for me to appreciate.) Dillard has studied theology so I was very surprised (and pleased) that she wasn't writing more about religion. This reminded me of the essays of Barbara Kingsolver and her book Prodigal Summer is almost a fictional story of someone like Annie Dillard.
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Indescribable - very trippy meditation on being still, seeing, art, time. Beautifully written and leaves you with much to think about.
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Solipsistic indulgence for those with the luxury of luxury but not the luxury solipsism. Kind of disappointing as this was on my to read list for years. Is it misogynistic to say it doesn't help that Tavia Gilbert sounds like a mom? Is it immature? Someone call me on my guilt for not caring about this person's summer vacation!
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Well, this is a peculiar book that started out ploddingly yet picked up steam after the halfway point. At times it whines, shrilly, as self-indulgent and precious (though I guess any author could be accused of this) yet at other times has dazzling moments of brilliance and soulfulness. I thought I had no expectations going into this read but at the end I thought "Hmm, that was not what I expected at all." Of course now the problem is I don't know what I thought I would be in for, reading this book. Dillard has referred to this book as a "book of theology" and that could be the portion that is tripping me up ~ all of the visceral wonder at God's own creation stuff made me cringe just a little, tiny bit. The book has also been likened to Thoreau's Walden. This I can appreciate much more fully as the passages where Dillard is engrossed, consumed in her interactions with the animals, birds and insects of Tinker Creek, carry more strength (for me) when not wrapped up in reckoning with God. Overall, the idea of being more present, of seeing (not just looking) nature and the diurnal nuances of life is so important and something we all should be making more time for in our harried, disconnected lives.
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I have been going to read this one for years and finally got to listen to it. It lived up to what I expected of it. It is Dillard's nature observations during a year in WV, with wonderful tangents into philosophy and fantasy. I only wish I could learn to be such an excellent observer.
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