2011/365/096: Listening to Dillard

Many highlights to this day (there always is when I’m teaching at Towson), but the surprise highlight has to be listening to Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim At Tinker Creek, as read by Tavia Gilbert. I’ve had this book on my iPod for some time now, but today was the first day that I really listened to it.

I read it years ago when my mother got me a copy for my birthday (ah, those wonderful days in Grad School at Goucher…LOVED the literature I was reading then…). And although I really appreciated the way Dillard worked the words to flow as natural as some of the streams she was writing about, I could not appreciate the way they sounded–until today.

Tavia Gilbert does a wonderful job bringing Dillard’s essays to life.

I know you cannot hear this, but even reading this excerpt gives you a sampling of Dillard’s gift for poetic nonfiction:

The creek is the mediator, benevolent, impartial, subsuming my shabbiest evils and dissolving them, transforming them into live moles, and shiners, and sycamore leaves. It is a place even my faithlessness hasn’t offended; it still flashes for me, now and tomorrow, that intricate, innocent face. It waters an unserving world, saturating cells with lodes of light.

The rhythm, flowing with a lovely dose of alliteration, blend perfectly to mesmerize the most stubborn reader.

I am always thrilled by what I can learn by reading and listening, how the lessons help me become a better writer and communicator with my target audience, without sacrificing my own voice in my writing. Stephen King has said on numerous occasions that you can’t be a writer if you don’t read. The two are inseparable.

I think making the time to read more (stop that laughing) is a critical need for us to stave off the ills of technology, to thwart the dumbing down of the depths of our thinking. Reading forces us to slow down, practice patience, and contemplate our own connections and revelations as we turn each page.

I would love to know what you are reading right now. What does your latest book make you remember?

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