Slice of Life Story Challenge -Reading Slow and Deep

I am  currenlty reading Annie Dillard’s ‘A Pilgrim At Tinker Creek’ and find myself so thoroughly impressed with her superior word use. The clarity of the author’s descriptions paint scenes my reading mind savours. There exists in her use of simile and metaphor a genuine freshness that makes words spark and spit with energy. Dillard’s use of alliteration appeals to me greatly. I love such figurative elements when used in consciously crafted ways.

I am lifted into the scene when Annie Dillard writes, ‘A gibbous moon marked the eastern sky like a smudge of chalk.’ I love this use of simile when describing the night scene.

Her ability to watch carefully and closely is revealed in the words, ‘The next night a hard frost numbs the caterpillars, who huddle in heaps.’

At one point Annie Dillard reminds us that as writers rehearsal is a vital pre-writing activity. She writes, ‘I have to maintain in my head a running description of the present.’ She highlights the importance to writers of close observation with the words, ‘ Seeing is of course very much a matter of verbalization. Unless I call my attention to what passes before my eyes, I simply won’t see it.’ She further reinforces the notion of close observation being part of the writer’s armoury when she writes,   I walk out,  I see something, some event that would otherwise have been utterly missed and lost, or something sees me, some enormous power brushes me with its clear wing and I resound like a beaten bell.’ The connections at this point of the text resonate for me as both reader and writer.

This is mentor text material for me. I am finding that I am reading this book slowly and deliberately as I want to absorb as much of this writer’s craft as possible. I have placed a bunch of post it notes inside the book, in order to capture the rich pearls Annie Dillard has scattered through this book. This is deep reading for me. I am  conscious of reading like a writer. The act of reading like this has become a habit of mind. It’s like exploring for treasure and finding plenty… What joyful reading this is turning out to be!


  1. I have read this a long while ago & remember loving it, but lately I've read A Writing Life & have used parts of it as mentor texts for my students. She tells good stories, even if just about caterpillars in heaps. Thanks for reminding about slow reading!

  2. Me too! I remember seeing Annie Dillard reading at the 92nd St Y years ago and falling in love with her words and her eccentric way of looking at the world and then years later one of her essays showed up on an ELA essay exam. I was in heaven, I'm not sure the kids felt the same way.
    LOVE HER! I 'm right with you Linda and Alan,

  3. I love it when I find a book that makes me slow down to get a hold of the craft. I think I'll have to get my hands on a copy of this one.

  4. "It's like exploring for treasure and finding plenty," loved that part at the end.

  5. I, too, read this book when I first moved to Virginia quite a few years ago. I agree with Ruth that I need to reread it like a writer- I was too enchanted the first time.

  6. I love it when I find a book with language I want to emulate. Your writing is that to me.

  7. This is on my tbr pile. Books that make you savor the language are the best.


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