Review published on June 3, 2017.
Anne Dillard is very different to most people. When they look at the world around them, they only see a fraction of what is actually there; she relentlessly absorbs every detail of the place and experience. But her true skill lies in taking what she has seen and writing about it with tight, sharp prose. In this new collection, Dillard writes about subjects as wide-ranging and diverse as solar eclipses, the family jokes, and the bundle of energy that is the weasel, as well as essays on skin, tsunamis and about the Victorian expeditions to the North Pole.
Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.
Her sense of fascination and wonder at the things she sees permeates the book with all the subjects she talks about, making this a wonderful thing to read. My favourite essay was the one titled ‘For The Time Being’, which is about a material that most do not consider, sand. In her unique way, we find out how many grains of sand are created every moment, how it flows with water down to the sea before transforming back to rock over countless millennia. We learn that the sharpest items are not always metal and that they took hundreds of small blows to form these exquisite stone implements. This is the second book of Dillard’s that I have read now and I am finding that I am liking her writing more and more. Her penetrating gaze at the world around is brilliantly complemented by her precise prose. Whilst I realise that some of these have been published before, this is a fine introduction to her work for those who haven’t read any of her work before.
Paul Cheney 4/3
The Abundance by Annie Dillard
Canongate Canons 9781782117735 pbk Feb 2017
The Wainwright Book Prize 2017 longlist – and shortlist!