From Annie Dillard, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and one of the most compelling writers of our time, comes For the Time Being, her most profound narrative to date. With her keen eye, penchant for paradox, and yearning for truth, Dillard renews our ability to discover wonder in life’s smallest—and often darkest—corners.
Why do we exist? Where did we come from? How can one person matter? Dillard searches for answers in a powerful array of images: pictures of bird-headed dwarfs in the standard reference of human birth defects; ten thousand terra-cotta figures fashioned for a Chinese emperor in place of the human court that might have followed him into death; the paleontologist and theologian Teilhard de Chardin crossing the Gobi Desert; the dizzying variety of clouds. Vivid, eloquent, and haunting, For the Time Being evokes no less than the terrifying grandeur of all that remains tantalizingly and troublingly beyond our understanding.
“Writing as if on the edge of a precipice, staring over into the abyss, Dillard offers a risk-taking, inspiring meditation on life, death, birth, God, evil, eternity, the nuclear age, and the human predicament…Her razor-sharp lyricism hones this mind-expanding existential scrapbook, which is imbued with the same spiritual yearning, moral urgency, and reverence for nature that has informed nearly all of her nonfiction since the 1972 Pulitzer Prize–winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek." (Publishers Weekly)
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Dillard Delights. She provokes thought. She laces together other writers, her own travel experiences, cultural, religious, and spiritual traditions, and natural history. Her message is not overly didactic, but clearly secular, probably atheistic. She brings together these elements related to being--birth, death, grains of sand--how they evolve, how many there are, how they shape the world, how an individual feels about them. She deals with god in a similar even handed way, with curiosity, as if wondering how we came up with this idea.
I was very distracted by the multiple mispronunciations in Tavia Gilbert's performance. Simple words like "temporal" and "Abiquiu, New Mexico" --a quick listen at dictionary or goole search would have answered if she had asked, "How does one pronounce this?" I wonder, "how does one get paid to mispronounce so many words?"
Gilbert's voice is likeable enough. Her volume and pacing are good. But she seems to read without a lot of meaning--as if she doesn't fully comprehend the text.
- Kathy Paterson
What an Wonder