Book Title: The Abundance – Narrative Essays Old and New
Author: Annie Dillard (http://www.anniedillard.com/)
Publisher: Harper Collins (https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062432971/the-abundance/)
I love spending time in the Library. If I need some fresh thoughts or want to clear my head, walking to the Library is a natural act. It was a Friday afternoon and I had been working on a paper most of the week. I wanted to clear my head and so I went to the University Library. For a change I saw a small well made book in English on the “New Arrivals” shelf. It was “The Abundance” by Annie Dillard. I quickly recognized Annie Dillard from an earlier book I had read titled “The Writing Life”.
I spent much of my free time over that weekend reading “The Abundance”. It contained essays from her earlier works. Since I had not read any of her earlier works except The Writing Life, the content was new to me. As stated by Geoff Dyer in his foreword, “Dillard can only be enjoyed by a wide-awake reader.”
The essays from the writing life was a nice reiteration of some great tips for writers such as myself – be careful of what you read; be careful of what you learn, non-conformity may be your only hope, the writer ought to know his/her field, you can shape literature only if you know it, and don’t hoard what seems good for a later time or place — the central message is “give it, give it all, give it now”
Though I enjoyed every essay in the book, I especially soaked in the many pieces excerpted from “Teaching a stone to talk” and “Pilgrim at tinker creek”. They provide enough material for reflection on the truths of life. At times it appears to border on the metaphysical but Dillard does such a good job of keeping you firmly grounded.
I could not connect much with the essays from “Holy the firm” and “From an American childhood”, but I am sure they are due to my limited knowledge of the context. Towards the end of the book the essays from “For the time being” nicely sums up the collection. Two sentences from this section particularly drive home the point and will stay with me for a long time:
“All that is really worthwhile is action”
“If you stay still, earth buries you, ready or not”
Brilliant is the only word that comes to my mind, though it is not a great expression of the wisdom expressed in this book. I do not have to recommend Annie Dillard as an essayist to people who know her, but for those who don’t, this is a great book into the world of her writings.
It was a great way to spend my weekend absorbed in thought over the wisdom received. I can only thank nature for offering me the solitude and the chance to enjoy such great company.