For the Time Being
By Annie Dillard
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780375403804, 224pp.)
Publication Date: March 16, 1999
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Following a novel, a memoir, and a book of poems, Annie Dillard returns to a form of nonfiction she has made her own--now, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
This personal narrative surveys the panorama of our world, past and present. Here is a natural history of sand, a catalogue of clouds, a batch of newborns on an obstetrical ward, a family of Mongol horsemen. Here is the story of Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin digging in the deserts of China. Here is the story of Hasidic thought rising in Eastern Europe. Here are defect and beauty together, miracle and tragedy, time and eternity. Dillard poses questions about God, natural evil, and individual existence. Personal experience, science, and religion bear on a welter of fact. How can an individual matter? How might one live?
Compassionate, informative, enthralling, always surprising, For the Time Being shows one of our most original writers--her breadth of knowledge matched by keen powers of observation, all of it informing her relentless curiosity--in the fullness of her powers.
Annie Dillard is the author of ten other books, including The Living, a novel; An American Childhood, a memoir; and Teaching a Stone to Talk, a collection of essays the Boston Globe judged one of the best books of the 1980s.
"At heart Annie Dillard's work is a record of her search for God . . . [and] For the Time Being is a brilliant book that . . . sums up God more succinctly than she ever has before."
--David Bowman, Salon Magazine
"This uncommon book is a testament to a rare and redeeming curiosity . . . an exhilarating, graceful roundelay of profound questions and suppositions about the human adventure in nature. And as always, reading Dillard makes this mind-expanding experience an emotional one . . . with a voice blending clear-eyed factuality with prismatic meditations on ineffable things."
--James Zug, Outside Magazine
"Writing as if on the edge of a precipice, staring over into the abyss, Dillard offers a risk-taking, inspiring meditation on life, death, birth, God, evil, eternity, the nuclear age and the human predicament. Her razor-sharp lyricism hones this mind-expanding existential scrapbook, which is imbued with the same spiritual yearning, moral urgency and reverence for nature that has informed nearly all of her nonfiction since the 1972 Pulitzer Prize-winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek."
"This absorbing meditation . . . [is] a spare yet exquisitely wrought narrative . . . By turns funny, flinty, and sublime, Dillard meshes the historical, the scientific, the theological, and the personal in a valiant effort to net life's paradoxes and wonders."
--Donna Seaman, Booklist
"A work of piercing loveliness and sadness . . . One of those very rare works that will bear rereading and rereading again, each time revealing something new of itself."