The AbundancePosted: July 6, 2016
The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New
HarperCollins Publishers, March 15, 2016, 309 pages
Kindle Edition $12.99, Amazon hardcover $17.76
I have loved Annie Dillard since my Claremont Cockroach days. I devoured her first book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, in which she recounts a bucolic, rural, Thoreau-like lifestyle. That is the only one of her books in that genre. All of her other books cover different territory. Nonetheless, I have read most of her nonfiction since.
The Abundance is an anthology of her writings from her various nonfiction works. In reading the essays in this book, I remember most of them from when I read them decades ago. Dillard is a master of English prose, and those who appreciate that will love her work.
That said, this may not be the best introduction to Dillard. The book contains excerpts from An American Childhood, but not the best excerpts. The parts I loved most about that book revolved around Dillard’s mother, who loved to cheat at family board and card games, and who loved to play practical jokes. (Walking up to a random, unknown young man and his girlfriend sitting on a park bench, with the young Annie in tow: “Well, there you are! I’ve missed you, you know. You see little Annie here. She has your eyes, doesn’t she? Ah, but you’ve moved on. I wish you all the best. Do take care.” And then walking off, leaving the young man to explain all this to his girlfriend.)