Book Review: The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

Pilgrim at Tinker CreekPilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard


I’m having a difficult time deciding what to rate this book. One of the young married ladies from church recommended it.

I struggled with it.  Really struggled.  In the beginning the writing felt pretentious.  I almost quit.  The Wikipedia article really helped me decide to continue. The Pilgrim was very into watching nature, and — though I’ve become more interested over recent years — I don’t tend to be.  The subject matter didn’t appeal to me and occasionally dragged.  She focuses a lot – a *lot* – on death in nature.  There were whole days when I just couldn’t face reading the book.

But I finished.  And I’m glad I did. Not solely because I’m done with it, rather because Dillard had something to say about life, death, faith, and existence.  It all tied together in the end. 

I understand why some readers absolutely love the writing; there were portions that I found strikingly beautiful.  I understand why some readers find it boring as all get out.  She stretches her vocabulary as far as it will go. At times, I think she’s over-writing – using big words for the purpose of big words. At times, it’s worthwhile.  The book is dated in parts – the flood from Hurricane Agnes in the 1970s is featured – but not so dated that the reader is confused.  It is up to date talking about issues of being and nature sometimes in roundabout ways.

I have come to the conclusion that this book, more than most, improves upon multiple readings. Maybe even requires them. Each time I skimmed back through at the places I’ve marked (to choose a quote for the week …) there’s more depth, more understanding to the reading.

Brandy asked me if she should be looking for a copy.  I’m at a loss for what to tell her.  The library was a perfect way for me to try it out.  I can imagine wishing to go back through it another time … at least skimming it. 

I posted some quotes to my blog.

Artificial Obvious
Wonder and Trust
Birds and Babies Singing
A Thought Branches and Leafs

I still don’t know how many stars to give it.  I can’t say I liked the book.  It was objectively well written.  I’m not disappointed to have read the book.  It was an accomplishment of determination to finish.  Overall, I think it was well worth my time and struggle and may be so again.  It will never be my favorite book, but I appreciate it. I might even try some of her other books.

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One Comment

  1. This is one of those books everyone is supposed to read, but I haven't tackled it yet. Thanks for your honest thoughts.

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