photo by Sheri Dixon

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Review- "A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek"


"A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" by Annie Dillard?

Didn't we all have to read that like in high school? Possibly.

There were many things I was supposed to do in high school, but was too busy with other pursuits. Or maybe I did read it and just don't remember doing it.

High school was like that.


"I need a book to read", I said to Ward- Keeper of the Dixon Library. He actually hates when I say that, because while MOST of the time the book he places in my hands is fabulous and just what my eyeballs and brain ordered, there have been a few times when his choice has been...unfortunate.

So he handed me his worn copy of Pilgrim hesitantly, saying "I'm sure you've read this but it's pretty good".

If you haven't read it, or if you can't remember reading it, or even if you read it AND remember reading it, here's what you need to do.

Read it again.

My only problem with this book is that it was so delicious, so very rich in its descriptive nature, that it was difficult reading more than one page at a time.

Each and every page, paragraph and sentence is thick with detail and must be consumed not as a novel but as poetry- slowly turning each word over carefully, fitting each one with the next as they drop gingerly yet effortlessly together.

What's it about?

Life. Nature. God. Eskimos. Bugs. Death. Horror. Beauty. Muskrats.

Where does it take place?

Tinker Creek, silly. All the above, in the familiar and fabulous context of one simple,ordinary extraordinary place.

A brilliant collage of scientific facts both book learnt and observed, are stitched together with folklore, laws of nature, seasonal forces, mythology, predatory and migratory behavior and experiments sensible and nonsensible, all encompassing a year of life on the ever-changing banks of Tinker Creek, a location that sparkles in its remarkable normalcy.

As perfect as the entire book is, there is one passage, one paragraph that I kept going back to, actually dog-eared the page so I could find it quickly (sorry, Gomez) because it's sublime in form and speaks my own heart better than I ever could.

Thank you, Annie.

"I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions and whose beauty beats and shines not in it's imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them, under the wind-rent clouds, upstream and down."

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