Friday, September 23, 2011

Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard

Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard is a meditative memoir made up of three scant essays reflecting on her life, spirituality, and violence.  The prose is poetic and woven with allusions and metaphors making for what is possibly a profound piece of literature.

I say “possibly” because Dillard’s syntax, her writing style, eludes me.  I was so consumed with exploring how she was saying things that what she was saying escaped me.  In the rare moments I thought she might be about to bring her meaning down to earth, her prose slipped away from me again, leaving me feeling like I was grasping at grains of sand. 

When I was growing up, Dillard’s book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek was ubiquitous.  It seemed everyone had a copy somewhere on their shelves and I assume they all read it.  Probably loved it.  This is why, when I heard about Holy the Firm at the Julian of Norwich one day retreat, I simply knew I had to read it.  Years later I finally get around to it and I’m disappointed because this book makes me feel stupid.  Of course I’ve ready many intellectually challenging books so I am not averse to such things.  However, I’ve a feeling that Dillard will be shuffled into the list of writer’s whose style leaves me disenchanted, which is not be confused with the somewhat long list of authors whose writings have left me so disappointed that I will never ever read another book by them no matter how many times they appear on the best-seller list.

I am on the fence about Dillard and will try to read another book by her soon to see if it’s just this book that has this peculiar tone that removed me from ever immersing myself in her words or if this is just how she writes in general.  If it’s the latter, I probably won’t finish the second book because, I know after experiencing this one, it won’t change by the time I reach the end.

As I've already hinted at within the review, this is a book I've been meaning to read for a while so it's another BISHRBN although it may be part of the list of Books I Wish I'd Never Bothered Reading.  We'll see.  

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