An American Childhood

By Annie Dillard

I’m a huge Annie Dillard fan, largely because of how she wields language: with vivid intensity and acute perceptiveness, and a gift for weaving observation into insight.

This book is a memoir of her childhood. It “combines the child’s sense of wonder with the adult’s intelligence”, a “celebration of being alive” that’s “marked by exquisite insight…”

One reviewer describes it as a “metaphysical memoir”; I don’t know exactly what this means, but it sounds compelling! With no table of contents, and chapters unnumbered, the book seems less a linear narrative than a string of vignettes, recollections, vivid memories and visions reflecting the past.

Dillard’s first book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, is one of my all-time favorites — showcasing her extreme observational powers paired with lyrical, meditative, evocative language and subtly brilliant insights on nature, life, time, experience. Her A Writer’s Life is also amazing; she’s great at reflecting on the peculiarities of the creative process.

So, now I want to read everything she’s written, including this book. I anticipate she’s equally insightful on the process of growth, the transitions of childhood.

Additional information:

  • ISBN: 978-0060915186
  • Publisher: Harper & Row Publishers

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