Thursday, December 13, 2007

Quote from my current reading: Annie Dillard

Here is a paragraph out of the book I'm reading, Annie Dillard's Teaching a Stone to Talk. She has just spotted a weasel for the first time, and is describing it.

Weasel! I had never seen one wild before. he was ten inches long, thin as a curve, a muscled ribbon, brown as fruitwood, soft-furred, alert. His face was fierce, small and pointed as a lizard's; he would have made a good arrowhead. There was just a dot of chin, maybe two brown hairs' worth, and then the pure white fur began that spread down his underside. He had two black eyes I did not see, any more than you see a window.

There are more outrageous or esoteric quotes to pick, but that one caught me by the directness of her language, her varied use of sentence structure, and the unusual analogies she makes.

Enjoy your literary heroes,



Anonymous said...

Hope you'll have the chance to read her 1999 work, 'For the time being' -- about some natural history of sand and clouds, ...and a Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin digging in the deserts of China. Wow! Va mom

Bpaul said...

Teilhard de Chardin is a major inspiration of mine actually. I'm going to have to check that out.

Stu Farnham said...

Damn, that woman can write. If I wrote just one sentence like "He had two black eyes I did not see, any more than you see a window." I would be done.

It takes me a long time to read Dillard, first because her prose is thick and aromatic with words, and second because I cannot help but stop, reread, and read aloud if someone is with me.