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Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974)

by Annie Dillard

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,947881,795 (4.2)1 / 255
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize "The book is a form of meditation, written with headlong urgency, about seeing. . . . There is an ambition about her book that I like. . . . It is the ambition to feel." -- Eudora Welty, New York Times Book Review Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is the story of a dramatic year in Virginia's Roanoke Valley. Annie Dillard sets out to see what she can see. What she sees are astonishing incidents of "beauty tangled in a rapture with violence." Dillard's personal narrative highlights one year's exploration on foot in the Virginia region through which Tinker Creek runs. In the summer, she stalks muskrats in the creek and contemplates wave mechanics; in the fall, she watches a monarch butterfly migration and dreams of Arctic caribou. She tries to con a coot; she collects pond water and examines it under a microscope. She unties a snake skin, witnesses a flood, and plays King of the Meadow with a field of grasshoppers. The result is an exhilarating tale of nature and its seasons.… (more)
  1. 30
    Walden by Henry David Thoreau (emydid)
    emydid: Dillard was very much influenced by Thoreau (she did her master's thesis on Walden), and both Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and Walden have similar narrative structures. Both books follow their narrator through the course of a year, and both weave detailed observations of the natural world together with self-examination and statements of a personal worldview. Annie Dillard's concerns are more explicitly theological, while Thoreau tends to be more concerned with the relationship between the individual and society - but both of their books are beautifully-written, densely symbolic investigations into the relationship between the self, nature, and the spiritual. It's interesting to think about the links and contrasts between the two books - for example, between Dillard's idea of "seeing" and Thoreau's reflections on self-exploration and awareness.… (more)
  2. 00
    The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature by David George Haskell (danhammang)
    danhammang: Love of the land, celebration of the natural world written by one of the finest authors of this generation.
  3. 00
    In Earshot of Water: Notes from the Columbia Plateau by Paul Lindholdt (bezoar44)
    bezoar44: These authors share some of the same fearless introspection; and while both study the natural world, it is in some ways just a (vital) context in which to explore what it means to live meaningfully.
  4. 00
    Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting by Michael Perry (Othemts)
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  societystf | Jun 27, 2022 |
Overall, I found this book to be amazing. She introduced me to a totally different perspective on life and nature, providing education on many different facts about animals and plants that I have never gained elsewhere. A problem was her tendency to go so deep into her own way of thinking thar certain points she was making could not be understood. Also, I would have liked to learn more about what led her to live primarily in solitude for a time, at Tinker Creek ( )
  joyfulmimi | Jun 5, 2022 |
Annie Dillard describes a year spent exploring the creek and forest near her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her observations of nature lead to contemplation of the nature of God and creation. The book starts by celebrating the abundance and extravagance of nature, but then turns to examining the amount of death and waste, such as egg-laying insect who create hundreds of thousands of eggs but only a few survive. Nature can be beautiful, but also very cruel.

I think I will forever be haunted by the final pages of the book. After spending so much time discussing the cruelty of nature, there is one paragraph at the very end that flips that cruelty on its head, and makes the abundance of death in nature into a sign of God's care for creation.

This is a book worth discussing and re-reading. There's a lot to unpack in it. Sometimes it feels like she's just rambling about whatever happens to be going through her mind, and then, seemingly out of the blue, one small sentence will tie it all together, often with a big punch.

Dillard's afterword notes that the book suffers from some of the arrogance of her youth: parts of it are definitely over-written, but they are still enjoyable. She certainly had wisdom and humility beyond her years, but I wonder how different the book would be if she had written it when she was older. ( )
  Gwendydd | Jan 1, 2022 |
Pilgrim At Tinker Creek by Anne Dillard.

It won the Pulitzer in 1974, and it’s my 1st A. Dillard read.

There’s no way I can adequately review this book, and I’d be lying if I said I fully understood it. It felt like a meditative experience and I would get lost (in a good way) in her contemplations and observations, even if they often went over my head.

I found the Afterword humorous...in regards to intended audience.

She really liked using the word “bivouac” 😉 and I learned a few things like:

🐦 Starlings were introduced to the US by a rich man who wanted all the birds mentioned by Shakespeare brought to the US....which caused a lot of problems as they push out native nesters.

💚🌅Green rays - meteorological optical phenomena

It made me long for a meditative retreat! ( )
  Eosch1 | Dec 30, 2021 |
728
  revirier | Dec 13, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Annie Dillardprimary authorall editionscalculated
Adams, RichardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Conlin, GraceNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gilbert, TaviaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
It ever was, and is, and shall be, ever-living Fire, in measures being kindled and in measures going out.
---Heraclitus
Dedication
for Richard
First words
I used to have a cat, an old fighting tom, who would jump through the open window by my bed in the middle of the night and land on my chest.
[Afterword] In October, 1972, camping in Acadia National Park on the Maine coast, I read a nature book.
[More Years Afterword] I was twenty-seven in 1972 when I began writing Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
Quotations
Not only does something come if you wait, but it pours over you like a waterfall, a tidal wave. You wait in all naturalness without expectation or hope, emptied, translucent, and that which comes rocks and topples you; it will shear, loose, launch, winnow, grind.
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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize "The book is a form of meditation, written with headlong urgency, about seeing. . . . There is an ambition about her book that I like. . . . It is the ambition to feel." -- Eudora Welty, New York Times Book Review Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is the story of a dramatic year in Virginia's Roanoke Valley. Annie Dillard sets out to see what she can see. What she sees are astonishing incidents of "beauty tangled in a rapture with violence." Dillard's personal narrative highlights one year's exploration on foot in the Virginia region through which Tinker Creek runs. In the summer, she stalks muskrats in the creek and contemplates wave mechanics; in the fall, she watches a monarch butterfly migration and dreams of Arctic caribou. She tries to con a coot; she collects pond water and examines it under a microscope. She unties a snake skin, witnesses a flood, and plays King of the Meadow with a field of grasshoppers. The result is an exhilarating tale of nature and its seasons.

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