Pilgrim at Tinker Creek



The Pequod Review:

Annie Dillard spent four years in the early 1970s living in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she maintained a daily journal of her walks in and around Tinker Creek. Eventually she had filled twenty journals, and in 1974 she distilled the entries into Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Thoreau is the obvious comparison, for better or worse:

There is always an enormous temptation in all of life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end. It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral, simply to step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down, saying, I never merited this grace, quite rightly, and then to sulk along the rest of your days on the edge of rage.

I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.

Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock-more than a maple- a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.

I still prefer the wider-ranging nature of her memoir (An American Childhood), but this is a book that will appeal to a lot of readers. Winner of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize.