Pilgrim At Tinker Creek
By: Annie Dillard
Harper Perennial Modern Classics (September 10, 2013)
Pilgrim At Tinker Creek is superb. I am so glad I found this book. Originally published in 1974, it became an instant classic when its publication won author Annie Dillard the Pulitzer Prize at the age of 29. The book journals Dillard’s year-long residence beside the creek in Virginia as the seasons slowly move by. The style this book is written in is an interesting blend of narrative non-fiction, memoir, and science textbook – all reflected in a poetic tone that is aimed at both the wonder of creation and our own existence.
Two of my favorite quotes:
It is winter proper; the cold weather, such as it is, has come to stay. I bloom indoors in the winter like a forced forsythia; I come in to come out. At night I read and write, and things I have never understood become clear; I reap the harvest of the rest of the year’s planting.
Of all known forms of life, only about ten percent are still living today. All other forms—fantastic plants, ordinary plants, living animals with unimaginably various wings, tails, teeth, brains—are utterly and forever gone. That is a great many forms that have been created. Multiplying ten times the number of living forms today yields a profusion that is quite beyond what I consider thinkable. Why so many forms? Why not just that one hydrogen atom? The creator goes off on one wild, specific tangent after another, or millions simultaneously, with an exuberance that would seem to be unwarranted, and with an abandoned energy sprung from an unfathomable font. What is going on here? The point of the dragonfly’s terrible lip, the giant water bug, birdsong, or the beautiful dazzle and flash of sunlighted minnows, is not that it all fits together like clockwork—for it doesn’t, particularly, not even inside the goldfish bowl—but that it all flows so freely wild, like the creek, that it all surges in such a free, fringed tangle. Freedom is the world’s water and weather, the world’s nourishment freely given, its soil and sap: and the creator loves pizzazz.